South Africa- Yesterday, a Million Man march was held in South Africa, June 10 2008, protesting the government’s ineffective approach to both AIDs and violence. The March was a follow up to a smaller but equally vocal march in Johannesburg April 19, 2008. Prominent organizers of both marches included well-known HIV/AIDS activist Ms. Chriselda Kananda.
The object of protest was the government of President Thabo Mbeki, who has followed a policy of AIDs denialism. Instead of adopting the recommendations of his own health agencies, Mbeki has incredibly and reprehensively insisted that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. This has made education and treatment extremely difficult. Millions have died as a result.
Mbeki has exploited a group of AIDS denialists, including Duesberg, professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, David Rasnick, a prominent American biochemist, and controversial Nobel laureate Kary Mullis. These professors have denied indisputable scientific consensus, that HIV causes AIDS.
Activists and academics have denounced Duesberg for contributing to deaths of large numbers of South Africans. Canada's Dr. Mark Wainberg, president of the International AIDS Societies, stated “ the ground is cut out from under our feet by people who should know better." Saying that these skeptics are "contributing to the spread of HIV" by promoting mass denial about the disease, Wainberg suggested that their actions warrant criminal prosecution.
International Association of Whistleblowers, Dr. James Murtagh states,"The harm done by Dr. Duesberg is beyond comprehension. Dr. Mullis is a nobel laureate in a completely different field, and should not be making malliciously false statements regarding virology. Men of science have a responsibility to use facts and not myths- especially on a topic of such global importance. These false statements diminish the public's trust in medicine and science, and leads to incredible social global harm."
According to HIV Around the World - South Africa (Mark Cichocki, R.N. 2007):
South Africa has 5.5 million people are living with HIV, which represents about 12 percent of the population. One in four people age 15 to 49 years is infected with HIV, and over 1,700 AIDS related deaths each day. Currently it is estimated that there are 600,000 orphaned children as a result of AIDS. A survey done in 2004 reported that South African citizens spend more time at funerals than weddings, haircuts, or grocery shopping
Why does Mbeki-Duesberg-Mullis deny the fact that HIV causes AIDs? Mbeki's main spokesperson, who in March 2000 justified to Science magazine why the government decided to deny effective drug therapy to pregnant, HIV-positive women: 'That mother is going to die and that HIV-negative child will be an orphan. That child must be brought up. Who is going to bring the child up? It's the state, the state. That's resources, you see.'
Like Scrooge, who wanted little children like Tiny Tim to die and “decrease the surplus population,” Mbeki’s policies policies of denial have doomed millions of orphaned Tiny Tims.
The suffering of innocent children is the worst evil that exists. No punishment is too bad for those who inflict such suffering through willful ignorance on the innocent.
It is bad enough that Mbeki does not want to pay for effective drug treatments. Worse, his denialist position denies his citizens the right to be tested, and paralyzes prevention and education campaigns.
“It is vital that South Africans are clearly educated about how to avoid the disease. This needs to happen before our economy collapses due to the death of its viable workforce and we are faced with a bigger humanitarian problem.” Bishop Rathe advocates testing, because knowing your HIV-status empowers you to make informed decisions. Although no cure has as yet been found, HIV/Aids no longer needs to be a death sentence.
Less than 20% of AIDS victims in South Africa are treated. The epidemic is horrible, but more horrible is the epidemic of denial, despair and ignorance.
The IAW urges all whistleblower coalitions to condemn the ignorance and death spread by AIDS denialists, and to support the Millions of Africans demanding effective treatments, education and prevention of HIV.