Sept. 2000

Statement from the First International Holistic AIDS Conference that was held at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, Uganda 29 August - 1 September 2000, involving delegates from Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Irish Republic, United Kingdom, Australia and United States of America.


It is generally accepted by the scientific community that HIV originated in Africa. We reject this view, for which the evidence is most insubstantial, as a racist perversion of the scientific process.


It is claimed that Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes AIDS. Up to now however HIV has not been isolated in pure form from any patient who has tested HIV antibody positive. There are, however, many known causes of immune deficiency in Africa, as in other parts of the world. These include malnutrition, malaria, tuberculosis and other chronic bacterial and parasitic diseases. Economic underdevelopment, political instability and wars in many African countries have given rise to social and family breakdown, poverty, unemployment, and substandard overcrowded and unsanitary housing. In addition, there is inappropriate use of legal drugs and abuse of illegal drugs, as well as an increase in sexually transmitted diseases and medically unsupervised abortions. All of these may contribute to the development of immune deficiency. We also do not rule out the possibility that vaccines may have given rise to new diseases or in other ways have adversely affected peoples health.


Without the isolation and purification of HIV there can be no gold standard for HIV tests. Thus the HIV testing technologies and algorithms have not been demonstrated to be consistent and information about this can be found even in manufacturer's data sheets. A review of the scientific literature shows that there are over 70 diseases or biological conditions that may give false-positive HIV antibody-test results. Many of these, for example tuberculosis and malaria, are endemic in Africa.

Diagnosis of AIDS varies across the world; in parts of Africa a single HIV antibody screening test may be all that is carried out; in Western countries several confirmatory tests are undertaken prior to patient diagnosis. In some parts of Africa, an AIDS diagnosis is given using the Bangui case definition without testing for HIV antibodies which creates AIDS diagnoses which often may not correlate with the results of HIV testing. Thus a person can be "HIV-positive" in one country and "HIV-negative" in another, and the same can apply to a diagnosis of AIDS.


Prevention of immune deficiency must address its many causes in Africa. Appropriate measures would include cancellation of crippling debt repayments, establishment of equitable economic relationships with wealthy countries, improvement in nutrition, development of social and medical infrastructure with emphasis on provision of clean water and sanitation, containment of environmental pollution and control of major epidemic diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. The work of health departments and AIDS related non-governmental organizations needs to be refocused appropriately to take this into account. Proposals to reduce mother to child transmission, namely the administration of antiretroviral drugs to pregnant women and their infants and the substitution of formula milk for breast milk should be reconsidered in view of overwhelming evidence that bottle feeding in poor countries causes death and antiretroviral drugs have toxic effects. Exclusive breastfeeding should be encouraged.

Treatment and research

The treatment emphasis for AIDS must be shifted from the provision of expensive and toxic anti-retroviral drugs to tried and tested interventions. There is a need to encourage and promote much greater research in this area which should include tests/trials of traditional remedies like African non-toxic herbs. Current research on developing a vaccine for HIV must be refocused and reviewed in the light of the questions and doubts about the isolation of HIV.

Health education

Health education must include information that testing HIV antibody-positive may not mean a death sentence for any individual. All HIV health promotion activity should be re-evaluated in respect of other pressing health needs. This does not mean that health education about the transmission or treatment of sexually transmitted diseases should be neglected, as, aside from any controversies over HIV transmission, there are many well understood diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea that can cause death or serious disability. Contraceptive information should also be widely disseminated to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

Ethical, legal, human rights and women's issues. A positive HIV test result can impact negatively upon people's physical, psychological and social wellbeing and can lead to hopelessness, despair and even suicide. Patients have the right to withhold their consent to testing for HIV antibodies and to be treated for presenting symptoms and diseases. Where people choose to undergo HIV testing appropriate pre- and post-test counseling must be provided at all testing facilities. All should be done to avoid the stigmatization of and discrimination against AIDS/HIV patients. In some instances women have been particularly victimized as HIV carriers; they, alongside other vulnerable people, need to be empowered. It should be emphasized that the problem of AIDS and sex within this context can negatively affect our understanding of ourselves, our identity and all our human relationships. In this respect, the universal promotion of condomisation as a solution to HIV/AIDS has tended to undermine trust between people within their intimate relationships. There is growing concern about the erosion of care and respect for one another and the importance attached to the community. These values have been so prominent in many African societies and need to be restored and promoted.


In view of what has been said above we recommend that:

1. Our countries should ensure that there is adequate provision of health, educational and social care resources. AIDS should be discussed and addressed in conjunction with the issues of human welfare, need and development.

2. We should promote awareness of the consequences for health of economic inequality and political oppression. We call upon those with economic and political power in the African states to resist pressure to accept policies/products which are detrimental to their people and to likewise empower their state regulatory agencies.

3. HIV testing should be suspended. If testing for HIV is undertaken there should be full information about the non-specificity of the tests and pre- and post-test counseling should be provided.

4. Without incontrovertible evidence of their benefit, policies of antiretroviral treatment for pregnant women and their infants and the substitution of formula for breast milk should not be implemented.

5. African scientists should be encouraged to carry out their own research. An institution dedicated to health research in its widest context should be created in Africa.

6. There should be vigorous education and awareness campaigns about human values such as shared responsibility and respect for life and persons. AIDS/HIV should not be used to undermine the cultural values and practices of people, especially those related to human sexuality.

7. The media in Africa should investigate thoroughly and report responsibly on all issues around AIDS/HIV without relying on medico-pharmaceutical press releases or reports from Western countries.

Reported by Alive & Well affiliate Castor Kweyu from Kenya.