SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT TO CONSULT CLINTON, BLAIR ON AIDS "THEORY"
SAPA 3 March 2000
Johannesburg -- President Thabo Mbeki intends to lobby other world leaders to gather
support for a new look at issues such as whether HIV causes AIDS, according
to a prominent AIDS dissident.
American biochemist David Rasnick, who disputes that AIDS is
transmitted sexually, said this week that he spoke to Mbeki by phone in
He said Mbeki told him he would write to United States President Bill
Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder "and ask them to join his efforts to bring about an international
discussion on AIDS and the antiHIV therapies".
Mbeki had said this discussion would happen sometime in spring, well
before the international AIDS conference in Durban in July. He said Mbeki
wanted to provide a public forum where the leading proponents of the
"hypothesis" that HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) caused AIDS, and
its leading critics, could present the evidence for and against popular
Rasnick said he had suggested to Mbeki that these include the beliefs
that AIDS was contagious, that AIDS was sexually transmitted, that HIV
caused AIDS, and that antiHIV drugs promoted life and health.
Rasnick's statements follow this week's news that the health
department has begun searching for international scientists to take part in
a panel on AIDS that is expected to reexamine the scientific evidence
surrounding the disease, including the link between HIV and AIDS.
The plan met with a storm of protest from doctors, AIDS activists and
the media, who said the dissident arguments had been discredited years ago,
and that South Africa risked becoming the laughingstock of the world.
In a statement on Thursday 2nd March , Health Minister Manto
TshabalalaMsimang declined to say whether leading dissident Peter
Duesburg coauthor with Rasnick of scientific papers would be on the panel.
"My department is talking to a wide range of specialists to see who is
willing and available to participate," she said. "My personal view is that
those with more extreme views are unlikely to participate because we are
looking for a consensus view." The team members, to meet in South Africa as
soon as possible, would be encouraged to look at issues including "local
evidence regarding the causes and diagnosis of AIDS".
Rasnick, who has spent much of his life researching protease
inhibitors, seen as an antiAIDS drug, lives in Berkely, California. He is
on record as saying that the medical world has produced 40bn US dollars of
research that only proves HIV is harmless, and that AIDS has become a
multibillion dollar industry.
"I'm a scientist with 20 years' experience and there's only two things
I'm absolutely certain of... agency ellipsis One is that AIDS is not
contagious. It's not a thing you can 'catch' from anybody. And the other
thing is it's not caused by a virus, in particular HIV." He said this week
that Mbeki who is known to trawl the Internet for information on HIV/AIDS,
and who last year came out publicly against the antiAIDS drug AZT had sent
him a list of questions in January, and followed this up with a tenminute
phone conversation on 21st January.
"He asked me if I would support his efforts regarding AZT and AIDS. I
made a personal commitment to support Mbeki and I also committed Rethinking
AIDS: the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal, and I committed the
International Coalition for Medical Justice to support his efforts,"
Mbeki had sent him a list of eight questions he had already asked
TshabalalaMsimang, plus part of her answers, and asked for his comments. He
and colleague Dr Charles Geshekter of California State University, who met
TshabalalaMsimang in South Africa in December, later sent Mbeki a full reply.
In it they queried the justification for "lumping together the
wellknown diseases and conditions of poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation
and parasitic diseases that Africans have been suffering from for
generations and renaming them as AIDS".
Mbeki's questions had covered areas including the methods used in the
public health system to test HIV status, the definition used to classify a
person as having AIDS, and the diseases identified as having caused the
death of AIDS victims.
Rasnick said he and Geshekter told Mbeki that while the minister's
answers "faithfully reflect the views of many in the medical
establishment", her responses exposed many of the problems and
contradictions inherent in trying to understand AIDS in Africa. "Why are
diseases that generations of Africans have been suffering from long before
AIDS now arbitrarily redefined as AIDS?" they asked.
"The HIV/AIDS establishment is blaming the consequences of poverty,
malnutrition, poor sanitation, parasitic diseases etc. on a harmless virus.
There are billions of dollars available for AZT and condoms but hardly a
penny for food, schools, education, clean water, and jobs. The only
blessing of poverty is that it may protect poor Africans from the highly
toxic antiHIV drugs that have already killed thousands, perhaps tens of
thousands of Americans."
They said the minister leaned heavily on AIDS being sexually
transmitted. The simple fact was that this was merely a very popular
assumption. All scientific studies that had tried to measure sexual
transmission had repeatedly shown it was virtually impossible.
"Mr President, we are well aware that your investigations into AIDS
and the antiHIV drugs is not popular among some of your fellow countrymen
and certainly not popular with the world HIV/AIDS establishment and the
drug companies," they said.
"There must be tremendous pressure on you personally and on your
administration to stop your investigation. We know the courage it takes to
do the right thing in the face of such pressure. You have our support and
admiration for what you are doing."
Mbeki's spokesman Parks Mankahlana declined to confirm whether the
president had been in contact with Rasnick. "The president would be
disappointed if people he has spoken to would want to use the contact with
him to justify whatever view they may hold," he said.
Mbeki's speaking to someone did not necessarily mean the president
agreed with his views. He said Mbeki had a particular interest in HIV/AIDS
because of its devastating consequences, and was intensely involved in
discussions with people ranging from scientists to commentators about "the
global effort that needs to be undertaken for humanity".