Health HIV and AIDS Public Health and Health Systems

The price of denial

Manto Tshabalala Msimang
Written by Anna Maria Lombard

In June 1999 Thabo Mbeki became president. And so began one of the most destructive episodes in our recent history ‘€“ AIDS denialism. Mbeki questioned the very existence of a sexually-transmitted virus that caused AIDS.

Manto Tshabalala Msimang

Manto Tshabalala Msimang

MBEKI IN PARLIAMENT, 20 Sept 2000: You see if you ask the question does HIV cause AIDS’€¦ the question is, does a virus cause a syndrome? How does a virus cause a syndrome? It can’€™t.

He undermined antiretroviral medication… calling it toxic. Yet ARVs are the only drugs scientifically proven to suppress HIV and save lives.

This story counts the cost – in lives – of ten years of denialism and delays in treating desperate people…

There were over three hundred thousand preventable AIDS deaths during the Mbeki era. We ask: Is there ANYTHING that can make up for this shocking fact?


About the author

Anna Maria Lombard

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