10.Aids theories belong to ‘lunatic fringe’; Stephan Lewis UN envoy

Aids theories belong to ‘lunatic fringe’

    August 18 2006 at 08:01PM


By Fran BlandyThe South African government’s HIV and Aids theories were worthy of a “lunatic fringe”, the United Nations special envoy to Africa told the International Aids Conference in Toronto on Friday.Stephen Lewis accused the South African government of expounding theories “more worthy of a lunatic fringe than a concerned and compassionate state”, at the conference’s closing session.

Lewis hauled the country over the coals in front of over 20 000 delegates during his address on the importance of treatment.

‘Scientific nonsense’

“Between 600 and 800 people a day die (of HIV and Aids) in South Africa. The government has a lot to atone for, and I am of the opinion they will never achieve redemption,” Lewis said to a deafening roar of applause from the audience.

The African National Congress earlier called statements made by Lewis during the conference “unacceptable”.

“It is not my job to be silenced by a government when I know what it is doing is wrong, immoral and indefensible,” he said.

He also mentioned the arrests of Treatment Action Campaign leader Zachie Achmat and 44 protesters who occupied provincial government offices in Cape Town on Friday. They were calling for the arrest of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang after the death of a prisoner with Aids, which Lewis said “should never have taken place”.

“It really is distressing when the coercive apparatus of the state is brought against the most principled members of society,” said Lewis.

South Africa’s HIV and Aids policies have featured prominently at the HIV and Aids conference, with activists strongly condemning the health minister’s advocating nutrition as a prevention method.

Co-chair of the Aids conference Mark Wainberg called the theories “scientific nonsense” and said it was unconscionable to use “lemon juice as an HIV-prevention method”.

South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka performed at the start of the closing session. – Sapa


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