SA MUST JUDGE AIDS REPORT
SAPA 8 April 2001
Cape Town - The people of South Africa should
be the judge and jury in the controversy over
the nature of AIDS, leading dissident scientist Dr
David Rasnick said on Friday.
Rasnick was commenting on this week's release of
the interim report of President Thabo Mbeki's AIDS
panel, a body evenly split between dissident and
The panel failed in the report to reach consensus on
any of the major issues surrounding AIDS, such as its
cause or prevention, and instead proposed further
experiments and research.
However Rasnick, himself a panellist, said a debate
was not intended to change the views of the
"The purpose of the debate is much like that of a
legal trial. The prosecution and defence present
their arguments and evidence to the jury or judge
who then decides.
"In this case, the jury and judge are the people of
South Africa and the world, and President Mbeki and
Rasnick, a California-based scientist, was one of the
first dissidents to have contact with Mbeki when
the president began questioning conventional
theories on HIV and AIDS.
Rasnick has been in the headlines in South Africa in
recent months for describing the virus as "harmless",
and for declaring himself willing to have himself
injected with pure HIV.
He said on Friday the interim report of the panel
that he had seen was a fair representation of what
actually happened during the months of the panel's
The "minor discrepancies" that cropped up were
inevitable in any long report.
However, it was his understanding that the South
African government would make available to the
public the complete transcript "so that every detail
can be examined by those with the interest and
The issues still in dispute were that AIDS was said to
be contagious --which it was not -- that it was said
to be sexually transmitted -- which it was not --
and that it was said to be caused by HIV -- which it
The fourth area of dispute was the claim that
anti-HIV drugs prolonged or at least improved the
quality of life.
"The drugs accelerate death and make people sick
with AIDS diseases and other diseases," Rasnick
And finally, AIDS was said to be devastating Africa,
in particular South Africa.
"Africans are suffering and dying from the same
things they have been suffering and dying from for
generations before AIDS," he said. "They are not
suffering and dying from something new called AIDS."
Rasnick said Mbeki's decision to convene the panel
had accomplished something that had never
happened in 16 years of HIV.
"It brought together under one roof those who
support the mainstream view that AIDS is contagious
and caused by HIV and those who dispute that
"That is a major accomplishment."
"The exercise was extremely important to the
people of SA and the world, and it is not over," he
Earlier, Medical Research Council president Professor
William Makgoba announced that an experiment
commissioned by the panel has given a thumbs up
to the quality of HIV testing in South Africa.
He said a total of 2447 specimens from five sites in
South Africa were tested both in the republic and at
the United States' Centres for Disease Control.
The aim of this was to establish the quality and
reliability of HIV serology testing in South Africa, an
issue crucial for clinical diagnosis and keeping track
of the epidemic.
Makgoba said that in only two specimens was there
a discrepancy between the South African results
and those of the CDC.
In another nine specimens, results were reported as
positive or reactive by the South African sites and
as indeterminate by the CDC.
He said this showed the high quality of HIV testing
in South Africa.
Referring to the two discrepancies, he said that if a
positive had been obtained, additional tests on
further specimens would be carried out before a
clinical diagnosis of HIV-positive would be made.