DISSENTING SCIENTISTS TO HOLD AIDS CONFERENCE IN UGANDA
AFP 20 Aug. 2000
Kampala -- Dissident scientists who doubt that the HIV virus causes AIDS will hold an
international AIDS conference in Uganda beginning August 28 to discuss
alternative views on the origins of the pandemic, conference organisers said
The dissidents question the validity of methods used in HIV testing and the
usefulness of anti-retrovirals in treating victims.
In April, South African President Thabo Mbeki generated controversy when he
set up an advisory panel on AIDS which included dissident scientists who deny
links between the virus and the disease, asserting that the real causes of
lack of resistance against AIDS are related to under-development, poverty,
poor hygiene and local diseases.
Mbeki has since sought to downplay the controversy by welcoming traditional
The four-day conference, which will be attended by sociologists, is entitled:
"Making Sense: Alternative Views on the Origins and Causes of AIDS in
Africa," and will be held at the Roman Catholic Uganda Martyrs University in
Nkozi, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of the capital, Kampala.
A statement from the organisers said the conference will be coordinated by
the University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Kanyandago, along with
doctors Rosalind Harrison-Chirimuuta and Kevin Corbett from Britain.
The Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) has expressed strong reservations about the
event, but stopped short of saying it would try to prevent the conference
from getting underway.
UAC Commissioner General Kihumuro Apuuli warned that such activities could
derail ongoing efforts to fight AIDS, and ultimately lead to more deaths in a
country where more than 1.5 million people are believed to carry the HIV
The disease has killed some 500,000 people in Uganda.
"This is a serious matter and we have a problem here. It can be proved in the
laboratory that HIV causes AIDS, but these people are saying that it is
caused by something else," Apuuli said.
Uganda's Aids Control Programme, which creates awareness to prevent the
spreading of AIDS, has been hailed as an international success after HIV
infection rates halved between 1992 to 1996.
The government has launched a strategy to further promote awareness,
encouraging door-to-door voluntary testing for HIV.