I never said HIV does not cause Aids - Mbeki
07 March 2016, 14:44
Cape Town – Former president Thabo Mbeki has addressed the
"HIV denialism" which overshadowed his term in office.
"I never said 'HIV does not cause Aids'. This false
accusation was made by people who benefitted from trumpeting the slogan 'HIV
causes Aids' as though this was a religious edict.
"What I said is that 'a virus cannot cause a
syndrome'," Mbeki said in his letter on Monday.
During his tenure, the former president was accused of
denialism when it came to the issue of HIV/Aids.
He was slammed for policies that denied thousands of
HIV-positive South Africans access to antiretrovirals (ARVs), alongside former
health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who gained notoriety for her
promotion of lemons, garlic and olive oil to treat Aids.
Aids is 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!," Mbeki said.
Mbeki said in 2006 that HIV was the 9th leading cause of death
in South Africa, while tuberculosis was at the top, according to StatsSA.
"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 9th
leading cause of death in our country, with not even so much as a whimper about
the 1st leading cause of death, tuberculosis?"
On Monday, he questioned why the government would be
expected to focus on the 9th leading cause of death and treat the first eight
causes as less urgent and important.
"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?"
Good immune system
Mbeki made an example of an interview with scientist and
Nobel Prize winner Professor Luc Montagnier, in which he emphasised the
importance of a good immune system.
"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 which could do a lot. And this is my, actually my worry about
the many spectacular action for the global funds to buy drugs and so on, and
Bill Gates and so on, for the vaccine.
"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 advisors from the intelligent institutions,
and they don't get this kind of advice very often," Montagnier said in a
Mbeki said, during his tenure, that the critical importance
of nutrition and the need to use antiretroviral drugs with great care and
caution was emphasised.
"Why were we wrong when we said the things Prof
Montagnier said, while these were correct when he said them?" he asked.