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Saturday, 6 May, 2000, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
South Africa tackles Aids
Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mbeki challenged scientists to go beyond the conventional
By Brian Barron in Johannesburg

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has opened a controversial committee of scientists appointed to re-examine the Aids epidemic.

The 30-strong Partnership Against Aids panel is meeting in Pretoria this weekend, and it is due to report to an international Aids conference in six weeks' time.

Challenging the scientists to look for solutions that might go beyond the conventional, President Mbeki said the Aids epidemic is a catastrophe for Africa.

Of the 5.5m people who became infected with the HIV virus last year, nearly 4m of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.

The South African president has been criticised for including in the international panel several dissident specialists who argue that Aids is not caused by the HIV virus, but by factors such as malnutrition and poor hygiene.

One of the committee experts, the head of South Africa's Medical Research Council, said President Mbeki should not meddle in science.

Given the differing views on the panel, and the fact that the majority judgement of the medical world is that the HIV virus is linked to Aids, a unanimous set of recommendations seems most unlikely.

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See also:

05 May 00 | Africa
SA appoints Aids dissidents
20 Apr 00 | Africa
Mbeki's letter to world leaders
20 Apr 00 | Africa
Drug data backs HIV-Aids link
12 May 99 | Aids
Aids Africa's top killer
17 Apr 00 | Panorama
The Dying Game April 17 2000
23 Nov 99 | Health
HIV hits 50 million
08 Jul 99 | Aids
Aids drugs factfile
04 Nov 99 | Aids
Aids up close
14 Jan 99 | Africa
Profile: Thabo Mbeki
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