Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has spoken in reaction to the controversial “HIV denialism” which overshadowed his tenure in office. He said he was never part of those who believed in it let alone saying it.
“I never said ‘HIV does not cause Aids’. This false accusation was made by people who benefited from trumpeting the slogan ‘HIV causes Aids’ as though this was a religious edict.
During his tenure, the former president was accused of denialism when it came to the issue of HIV/Aids. Then, Scientists and physicians raised alarm at the human cost of HIV/AIDS denialism, which discourages HIV-positive people from using proven treatments.
Mbeki was categorically slammed for his policies that denied thousands of HIV-positive South Africans access ARVs, alongside former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who gained notoriety for her promotion of lemons, garlic and olive oil to be used in treating Aids.
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But in his recent letter addressing the issue, Mbeki said what he meant was that the deadly virus cannot cause syndrome
What I said is that ‘a virus cannot cause a syndrome.
Aids is an acronym for ‘Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome’ – therefore Aids is a syndrome i.e. a collection of well-known diseases, with well-known causes. They are not, together, caused and cannot be caused by one virus! I said that HIV might be a contributory cause of immune deficiency – the ID in Aids!
Public health researchers attributed about 330,000 to 340,000 AIDS-related deaths, along with 171,000 other HIV infections and 35,000 infant HIV infections, to the South African government’s former embrace of HIV/AIDS denialism
Mbeki had in 2006 said that HIV was the 9 leading cause of death in South Africa, while tuberculosis was at the top, according to StatsSA. On Monday, he questioned why the government would be expected to focus on the 9leading cause of death and treat the first eight causes as less urgent and important.
“I am convinced that it would be perfectly understandable that the normal, thinking African would ask the questions: Why did it come about that so much noise was made internationally about the 9 leading cause of death in our country, with not even so much as a whimper about the 1 leading cause of death, tuberculosis?”
“Did this have to do with the fact that South Africa could be a lucrative market for the sale of ARVs, as it now is?”
Giving an example of scientist and Nobel Prize winner Professor Luc Montagnier’s interview, in which he emphasized the importance of a good immune system, the former president said he was concerned about how many much of the global funds are used to buy drugs and vaccines.
Montagnier said in a video documentary:
We should push for more, you know, a combination of measures; antioxidants, nutrition advice, nutritions, fighting other infections – malaria, tuberculosis, parasitosis, worms – education of course, genital hygiene for women and men also, very simple measures which [are] not very expensive
But you know those kind of measures (I am suggesting) are not very well-funded, they’re not funded at all, or they are, you know, it really depends on the local government to take choice of this, but local governments they take advice of the scientific advisers from the intelligent institutions, and they don’t get this kind of advice very often.
Mbeki however pointed out that his tenure focused critically on the importance of nutrition and the need to use antiretroviral drugs with great care and caution
“Why were we wrong when we said the things Prof Montagnier said, while these were correct when he said them?” he asked.