Stephen Lewis, the UN special envoy to Africa, told the International Aids Conference in Toronto the South African government is expounding HIV/Aids theories “more worthy of a lunatic fringe than a concerned and compassionate state.” President Mbeki of South Africa is well known for his unorthodox views which claim Aids is a western world attack on Africa that can be combated by natural remedies. Lewis noted between 600-800 people die daily from these diseases, and he decried the arrest of members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) who were protesting the bizarre ideas of South Africa’s Minister of Health, Mano Tshabalala-Msimag. She believes all problems related to HIV/Aids can be cured by having people adopt the right nutrition program.
The president of South Africa has fired any minister of Health who advocates known successful methods of dealing with HICV/Aids. He plays along with ideas of abstinence although Stephen Lewis pointed out “abstinence only programs do not work.” The tragedy for any HIV/Aids program in South Africa is the government, not public support for the effort. Hopefully, with the end of his current term, a new president might actually listen to scientific evidence rather than spout rhetoric of natural remedies.