SOUTH AFRICA GIVES AIDS MAVERICK
ROLE IN TASK FORCE
By Steven Swindells
Reuters 7 May 2000
Pretoria -- South Africa appointed leading American
"AIDS dissident'' Peter Duesberg on Sunday to a powerful government
team tasked with staging experiments that could prove or reject orthodox
science's view that AIDS is caused by HIV.
Duesberg will work with the Atlanta-based Centre for Disease Control and
South Africa's Medical Research Council to prepare experiments to
determine whether the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes the
"They are going to sit and conceptualise experiments that could be
done...this will hopefully put to rest once and for all this question,''
Khotso Mokhele, president of the government's National Research
Foundation, told reporters.
Duesberg's appointment came at the end of an unprecedented two-day
meeting of orthodox and so-called dissident scientists who were invited
to Pretoria by President Thabo Mbeki to help shape South African public
policy on the AIDS scourge.
Duesberg's views have gained the ear of Mbeki who has staunchly defended
the rights of all scientists to get their views across on the AIDS
debate, despite a whirlwind of international scientific and media
Mbeki, who has questioned the efficacy of the widely used drug AZT and
denied it to pregnant mothers and rape victims on cost grounds, has
waded into a storm of controversy for apparently giving credence to
maverick views on AIDS.
DUESBERG SAYS AIDS CAUSED BY DRUGS, POVERTY
Duesberg, professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of
California, Berkeley, has denied orthodox science's view that HIV leads
The cancer pioneer has insisted that AIDS is caused by a breakdown of
the immune system caused by recreational and anti-HIV drugs such as AZT
and by poor living standards.
Elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1986, Duesberg has
since been ostracised by mainstream science which rejects his theories
and fears that debate over HIV-AIDS merely wastes time in the fight to
save millions of lives.
The California-based scientist told Reuters on Saturday he doubted South
Africa was experiencing an AIDS epidemic.
One in 10 South Africans, or 4.3 million people, are HIV-positive,
according to government figures, and AIDS deaths are set to explode
during this decade.
Duesberg would work with the American and South African institutions
over the next 6-8 weeks and prepare a paper to be presented to Mbeki's
advisory AIDS panel at its next meeting in South Africa in July, Mokhele
Eminent orthodox scientists such as AIDS research pioneer Luc Montagnier
are also on the panel personally set up by Mbeki.
Scientists from outside the 33-member panel would be invited to carry
out the experiments suggested by the three parties who will receive
government funding for their work, Mokhele said.
Mbeki's panel meeting in South Africa remained deeply split along
orthodox and dissident lines after two days of heated debate which the
country's Health Minister Manto Tshabalala Dlamini-Zuma characterised as