Is the President of South Africa really so irrational about AIDS?

Robert Walgate asks: Do Thabo Mbeki's opening words at the 13th International AIDS Conference in Durban at the weekend justify the reported reaction?

Robert Walgate(walgate@scienceanalysed.com)
Jul 9, 2000

The UK's Guardian says today (10 July) that "Mbeki makes doctors despair" with his "rejection of the conventional wisdom that AIDS… is caused by HIV." And that report was by no means alone in the world media reaction to the opening speech by Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, at the 13th International AIDS Conference, currently running in Durban. Press, radio and TV all carried much the same horrified reaction, as did the conference web site itself.

So what did he really say? Well, he focused heavily on poverty, which is certainly a major socio-economic factor in AIDS transmission in Africa; he announced his commitment to a classic anti-AIDS campaign in South Africa; and he only hinted that he questioned the role of HIV."We will continue to intensify our own campaign against AIDS" said Mbeki, "including: a sustained public awareness campaign encouraging safe sex and the use of...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?