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Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 19:42 GMT 20:42 UK
South African split over Aids
African Aids sufferer
More than 4m South Africans are thought to be HIV positive
By Greg Barrow in Pretoria

The South African Aids government has released a long-awaited report on AIDS in South Africa.

But the findings show a deep and almost unbridgeable divide between panel members.

Many will be left wondering why the government had to call a panel of experts together to make this conclusion

President Thabo Mbeki's comments last year that HIV was not necessarily the primary cause of AIDS led to widespread condemnation and there were hopes among many people that the panel would lay the matter to rest once and for all.

For over a year the panel of more than 40 local and international scientists grappled with fundamental questions surrounding the origins of Aids and its huge impact on South Africa.

President Mbeki urged the panel members to come up with recommendations about how the South African government should grapple with an HIV epidemic currently affecting more than 10% of the population.


On one side are those that accept scientific wisdom about the causal link between HIV and Aids and on the other those - known as dissidents - who believe that poverty and disease are the main cause of Aids.

Thabo Mbeki
Mbeki's comments last year led to widespread condemnation
Because the dissidents dispute the very existence of HIV, their recommendations run counter to conventional medical wisdom.

On treatment of Aids for example, they recommend the use of immune boosting medicines, such as garlic and Chinese cucumber.

And they also suggest the detoxification of the body through musical therapy and yoga.

On consideration of the report's contents, the South African government says, that unless new research suggests otherwise, it will stick to its current approach to the problem of Aids, based on the premise that HIV causes Aids.

This will be of great relief to the majority in the medical community, but many will be left wondering why the government had to call a panel of experts together to make this conclusion.

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See also:

21 Mar 01 | Africa
South African HIV infections rise
19 Mar 01 | Africa
SA rejects HIV test kits
15 Mar 01 | Africa
Analysis: Aids drugs and the law
21 Feb 01 | Business
Glaxo offers cheaper Aids drugs
12 May 00 | Africa
Aids initiative 'no magic cure'
24 Oct 00 | Aids
Aids drugs factfile
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