South Africa officially accepts HIV link to AIDS
Resource type: News
The Associated Press |
The new health minister broke dramatically Monday from a decade of discredited South African government policies on AIDS, declaring that the disease was unquestionably caused by HIV and must be treated with conventional medicine. Health Minister Barbara Hogan’s pronouncement marked the official end to denial about the link between HIV and AIDS by former President Thabo Mbeki and his health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Activists also accused Tshabalala-Msimang of spreading confusion about AIDS through her public mistrust of antiretroviral medicines and promotion of nutritional remedies such as garlic, beetroot, lemon, olive oil and the African potato. “We know that HIV causes AIDS,” Hogan told an international AIDS vaccine conference. Monday’s speech was her highest-profile public appearance since she became health minister two weeks ago when Mbeki was turned out of office. “It was imperative to get ahead of the curve of this epidemic 10 years ago,” she said. “We all have lost ground. It’s even more imperative now that we make HIV prevention work; we desperately need an effective HIV vaccine.” Tshabalala-Msimang’s views earned her the nicknames “Dr. Garlic” and “Dr. Beetroot” and made her a favorite target for cartoonists. South Africa has the world’s highest number of people with HIV, with about 5.4 million people infected with the virus that causes AIDS. The epidemic kills nearly 1,000 South Africans a day and infects about the same number.