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Clouding the AIDS issue

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 08 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1016
  1. Pat Sidley, BMJ correspondent
  1. Johannesburg, South Africa

    South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, is once again at the centre of a medical and scientific storm over the issue of HIV and AIDS, attracting a great deal of criticism from the media. The last time it occurred it was over the announcement of a “miracle cure” for AIDS, which turned out to have no medical value whatever and proved to cause only harm to patients illegally receiving the drug. The inventors of the cure, Virodene, bypassed all the research protocols and controls at universities and went directly to the thenminister of health, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Dr Zuma presented the pair and their claims to a cabinet meeting, and they were hailed for their “discovery.”

    In the debacle that followed, Mbeki, then the deputy president, was thoroughly convinced by the “researchers.” He was so taken by their case that when a financial squabble broke out among the “research team” he personally intervened, arranging early morning secret meetings with Zuma to organise a peace meeting between the warring parties. The …

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