SOUTH AFRICAN PANEL ON AIDS IS DIVIDED
OVER HOW TO DEAL WITH THE DISEASE
AP 5 April 2001
Dissidents say HIV testing and use of AIDS drugs should be halted
in Africa, with dissidents urging a halt to HIV testing and the use of
President Thabo Mbeki established the advisory council last year and
came under fire for including revisionist theorists, many of whom
question whether HIV causes the disease, the effectiveness of AIDS
medication and whether AIDS exists at all.
The 134 page report said the panel's two factions had a "fundamental
disagreement" on the cause of AIDS and, as a result, had emerged with
"different sets of recommendations."
The dissidents urged the suspension of all HIV testing and said, AIDS
medication no longer should be prescribed. They also recommended that
the government devote its resources to eradicating malaria,
tuberculosis and other "prominent AIDS defining diseases."
Among their recommendations for preventing AIDS were detoxification
of the body through massage therapy, music therapy, yoga and
spiritual care, and the use of supplements such as ginseng, Chinese
cucumber, aloe vera, garlic and echinacea.
The mainstream scientists urged HIV testing and the use of anti-
retroviral drugs. "A stronger emphasis should be placed on sex
education," they said, including more widespread condom use and
treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
Both sides agreed on the need to continue to improve social
conditions, reduce poverty and improve nutrition - factors that Mbeki
has said would help curb the spread of the disease. About 4.7 million
South Africans are infected with HIV.
Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, South Africa's health minister, said
the government would not change its AIDS policy because of the report.
"Pending the outcome of further research, the debates of the panel
have not provided grounds for the government to depart from its
current approach to the HIV/AIDS problem, which is rooted in the
premise that HIV causes AIDS," she said in a news release.
AIDS activists have asserted that Mbeki's flirtation with the
dissident AIDS theorists damaged prevention efforts, giving South
Africans an excuse not to practice safe sex.