By Muzondwa Banda

New African Sept. 1999

As Zambia hosts the 11th International Conference on AIDS this month, there are good tidings that at last - at long, long last! - some African governments are not going to lie down and swallow any AIDS figures forced down their throats by the Western AIDS establishment. And Zambia is leading the charge.

Three thousand delegates from around the world were expected in Lusaka for the AIDS conference (12-15 September). But even before they arrived, Zambia was already ruffling some plum feathers by rejecting a recent UNAIDS figure showing 20% of Zambians to be HIV-positive.

In rejecting the figure which he described as "alarmist", the director of the Central Statistics Office in Lusaka, David Diangamo, made an important observation: His government, he said, would be in a better position to take measures to control the AIDS "epidemic" only if "sufficient and accurate" data was gathered.

This should be true for the other African countries. Well-intentioned, comprehensive and widespread surveys should be carried out, probably by Africans themselves without involving donor or UN money, in order to accurately determine the exact extent of the disease in Africa.

Diangamo said such research would greatly assist in clearing the current confusion surrounding AIDS in Africa. His words deserves to be written in tablets of gold:

"There has not been a national study conducted in this country to measure the extent of HIV-AIDS," Diangamo said. "We will not accept that any foreign representative in this country should tell us that 20% of the adult population is HIV-positive. They will fail to make a breakdown of this figure. Such statements are alarming the nation, let's get to realities."

God bless his heart!

The long-maligned people of Africa expect more of such frank speaking at the AIDS conference in Lusaka. African leaders and experts assembling there should take the opportunity to look deeper and beyond the figures forced on the continent by the Western AIDS establishment.

The conference should also get to the bottom of the origin of AIDS with the view of stopping the cheap propaganda against Africa by the AIDS establishment which, sad to say, is parroted by Africans themselves without as much as a wink.

Already the conference agenda is filled with too many doom and gloom topics. There is no provision for the "other side of the coin". Is it not important for a conference of this nature to look critically at the recent hypothesis that AIDS originated from an African chimpanzee?

Or the other orthodox views which New African has for years implored the AIDS establishment to prove?

What about Diangamo's observation: Shouldn't the AIDS testing methods, widely known to be flawed and unreliable, be challenged and better testing methods called for?

On 29 July, a special investigative report in The Express (of London) revealed how a shipment of 29 tons of blood plasma, infected with HIV, was stopped at a port in Italy. Its destination - "the Third World" (read Africa).

"It is rumoured that there is a thriving traffic in these products which are sold cheaply to the Third World countries, where doctors are unaware of the fact that they are infected with HIV," said The Express.

According to the paper, David Mills, the husband of Britain's health minister, Tessa Jowell, had been quizzed by both Scotland Yard and authorities in Italy over the matter. He was said to have connections with the firm, Padmore, based in the British Virgin Islands which was at the centre of the deal. When the news broke, the firm was quickly put into liquidation.

The plasma was discovered to be well past its use-by date, and when tested found to be HIV infected.

These are some of the issues that an important AIDS conference like the one in Lusaka should discuss. But will they?