SHARP REBUKE FOR MBEKI'S SUPPORT OF AIDS 'DISSIDENTS'
AFP 1 July 2000
Johannesburg -- In a dramatic bid to quash the new controversy sparked by
President Thabo Mbeki concerning the cause of Aids, 5 000 scientists from
across the world have signed a declaration stating categorically that Aids
is the direct result of HIV.
The declaration - to be known as the Durban Declaration - was released in
Paris on Saturday night and comes ahead of an international Aids conference
to begin in Durban on July 9.
The declaration, which warns that "countless lives could be lost" unless it
is accepted that HIV causes Aids, will be reported in next Thursday's
edition of the British science magazine Nature.
In April Mbeki backed "dissident" hypotheses from a number of scientists,
notably in the United States, who denied links between the human
immune-deficiency virus (HIV) and Aids, asserting that the real causes of
lack of resistance against the killer disease were related to
under-development, poverty, malnutrition, poor hygiene and local diseases.
The bombshell declaration is expected to dominate discussion at the Durban
conference and could see delegates dividing themselves into two distinct
What is also significant is the apparently surreptitious manner in which the
signatures were collected and the large number of signatures obtained - two
aspects that significantly enhanced the "bombshell' aspect of the
In the declaration, the doctors and scientists claim they are "refuting
revisionist theories" on the cause of Aids, which they blame squarely on HIV
"The evidence that AIDS is caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive
and unambiguous," said the declaration, which Nature reported was signed by
more than 5 000 people, including the directors of top research
institutions, scientific academies and medical associations, Nobel
prizewinners among them.
"HIV causes Aids. It is unfortunate that a few vocal people continue to deny
the evidence. This position will cost countless lives," warned the
signatories to the Durban declaration.
"Although HIV-1 and HIV-2 first arose as zoonoses - infections transmitted
from humans to animals - both now spread among humans through sexual
contact; from mother to infant; and via contaminated blood."
"Like many other viruses, HIV recognises no social, political or
geographical boundaries," the statement stressed.
"...to tackle the disease, everyone must first understand that HIV is the
enemy. Research, not myths, will lead to the development of more effective
and cheaper treatments, and, it is hoped, a vaccine," it added.
The Durban Declaration may be read as of Monday on the Nature website at
www.nature.com, where a list of the signatories can also be found.
The scientific journal reported that while thousands of individual
scientists and medical doctors have signed it, researchers working for
commercial companies were asked not to do so.