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 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
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.