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UNAIDS defends South Africa's work on HIV/AIDS

Mutual suspicion and hostility in South Africa is dogging strong, practical interventions against AIDS, says UNAIDS chief.

Robert Walgate

LONDON. Is HIV the only cause of AIDS? How much does it matter when a country is doing the most that it can to stop a massive epidemic? Jasper Morch of UNICEF, Chairman of the UNAIDS Theme Group in South Africa, wishes the issue would just go away so everyone could get on with their work. But it flared up again last month after Time magazine's interview with the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, in which Mbeki stated HIV was just one of the causes of African AIDS.

This report was then followed by a rash of claims and counterclaims in the South African media, with several major institutions — including the African National Congress, the Anglican Church, and the trades union congress COSATU — reportedly asking Mbeki to clarify the government's position. Government advertisements on the matter did not seem to help, and even Nelson Mandela weighed in...

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