Business Day (South Africa) 11 July 2000

Durban -- AIDS dissident and a member of President Thabo Mbeki's AIDS advisorypanel, Professor Charles Geshekter, is expected to address journalists at the 13th International Aids Conference on Tuesday.

Geshekter and other AIDS dissidents are expected to address journalists on one of the most controversial AIDS statements to have come out of SA, namely that poverty causes AIDS.

President Thabo Mbeki's support of this view reverberated across the world, and he was widely condemned for his position to the point that he was accused of genocide.

Geshekter will be joined by Christine Maggiore, an HIV-positive mother who refused to take treatment. She is adamant that this saved her life.

Another speaker, Lynn Gannett, is a data manager for the controversial anti-retroviral AZT Phase III trials.

She said that she witnessed gross irregularities in the tests. The group also maintains that AZT is one of the problems, not the solution.

Mbeki's government faced criticism over its decision not to give AZT to pregnant women dependent on the public health system before its effects were known.

About 5 000 HIV-positive babies are born in SA each month, a tragedy many feel can be averted by making AZT available to these women and by giving them a choice on whether or not to use the drug.

The debate will take place amid testimony by eminent researchers who are presenting findings at the conference over the positive results achieved with anti-retrovirals.