Health Education AIDS Liaison, Toronto


Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel Report

South African President pressured to
eliminate discourse on HIV and AIDS

President Mbeki seeks the truth about AIDS

February 2000: President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa wants to hold an "Expert Panel of Inquiry" into the assumptions about the causes of AIDS, how to properly diagnose it, and which treatments are genuinely helpful. He intends to include representatives with a broad range of views. He hopes that discussion and debate will address important questions raised by "dissident" scientists, as they remain largely ignored. Does this sound like a sensible premise for a scientific conference?

Actually, it is an extraordinary move on the President's part. This is the first time that a head of state has recognized that these questions, far from being discredited as reported in the media, haven't been answered at all. In fact they have been aggressively censored. President Mbeki has been vilified in the South African and international press for suggesting that these questions deserve attention.

Many HIV researchers have denounced Mbeki's AIDS initiative as "idiotic", "dangerous" and "unrelated to science", saying that it is their "duty to intervene.'' "This is fiddling while Rome burns,'' said Dr. John Moore, a leading scientist at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York. "If South Africa declares that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, what impact is that going to have on the rest of the world?'' asked Moore. Some have called for foreign governments, especially the United States, to intervene and give the administration of South African President Thabo Mbeki a talking-to. Others have called for the boycott of the XIII International AIDS Conference scheduled for Durban South Africa in July.

These threats of coercion have no place in open scientific inquiry. No scientific theory should be run like a protection racket. The fact that voices are raised so defensively to enforce conformity and silence debate should be seen as a sign that the HIV=AIDS theory is in trouble.

"I am ... amazed at how many people, who claim to be scientists, are determined that scientific discourse and inquiry should cease, because 'most of the world' is of one mind," says Mbeki. "The debate we need is not with me, who is not a scientist, or my office, but [with] the scientists who present 'scientific' arguments contrary to the 'scientific' view expressed by 'most of the world'."

Responding to a request from an orthodox scientist that he ignore these dissenting ideas:

"It is clear from your letter that you believe that we should ignore or merely note these findings because of the current 'consensus amongst responsible and authoritative scientific leaders' as well as 'the available evidence'," Mbeki writes. "Undoubtedly, such 'consensus' and 'available evidence' also existed on the use of Thalidomide. ...I am afraid that my own conscience would not allow that I respond only to the 'consensus' with which you are in agreement."

On April 3 President Mbeki wrote a letter to world leaders outlining his concerns. In the U.S., the Clinton administration's response was to restrict distribution of the five-page letter, in an effort to prevent it from becoming public.

Here is the final passage from Mbeki's letter:

Some elements of this orchestrated campaign of condemnation worry me very deeply.

It is suggested, for instance, that there are some scientists who are 'dangerous and discredited' with whom nobody, including ourselves, should communicate or interact.

In an earlier period in human history, these would be heretics that would be burnt at the stake!

Not long ago, in our own country, people were killed, tortured, imprisoned and prohibited from being quoted in private and in public because the established authority believed that their views were dangerous and discredited.

We are now being asked to do precisely the same thing that the racist apartheid tyranny we opposed did, because, it is said, there exists a scientific view that is supported by the majority, against which dissent is prohibited.

The scientists we are supposed to put into scientific quarantine include Nobel Prize Winners, Members of Academies of Science and Emeritus Professors of various disciplines of medicine!

Scientists, in the name of science, are demanding that we should cooperate with them to freeze scientific discourse on HIV-AIDS at the specific point this discourse had reached in the West in 1984.

People who otherwise would fight very hard to defend the critically important rights of freedom of thought and speech occupy, with regard to the HIV-AIDS issue, the frontline in the campaign of intellectual intimidation and terrorism which argues that the only freedom we have is to agree with what they decree to be established scientific truths.

Some agitate for these extraordinary propositions with a religious fervour born by a degree of fanaticism, which is truly frightening.

The day may not be far off when we will, once again, see books burnt and their authors immolated by fire by those who believe that they have a duty to conduct a holy crusade against the infidels.

It is most strange that all of us seem ready to serve the cause of the fanatics by deciding to stand and wait.

It may be that these comments are extravagant. If they are, it is because in the very recent past, we had to fix our own eyes on the very face of tyranny.

I am greatly encouraged that all of us, as Africans, can count on your unwavering support in the common fight to save our continent and its peoples from death from AIDS.

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurance of my response.


President Mbeki's letter to world leaders (April 3, 2000).

For more background on President Mbeki's inititive:
Amid Epidemic, 'AIDS Skeptics' given prominent role on South Africa panel
South Africa lurched into another AIDS controversy this week with the announcement that about half of the scientists invited to join a national AIDS advisory panel are so-called dissident researchers who dispute the conventional explanations for the origin of the disease.
The Great AIDS Debate
News bulletins from the XIII International AIDS Conference report on the impact of Mbeki's scepticism.

Compiled news coverage of South African controversy
For the latest news: RETHINKING AIDS Front News.

South African Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel Report
The first comprehensive, independent review of Aids science in 17 years! A synthesis report of the deliberations by the panel of experts invited by the President of the Republic of South Africa, the Honourable Mr Thabo Mbeki.
Presidential Aids Advisory Report, March 2001
PDF  ||  MSWord   ||  PDF 
(zipped)  ||  MSWord (zipped)

HIV or Not HIV
By John Strausbaugh ~ New York Press
South African President Thabo Mbeki’s international panel convened twice in 2000, in Pretoria in May and again in Johannesburg in July. Between sessions there was supposed to be a period of Internet discussion. What made the group so highly controversial–and widely denounced as folly–was that the selection of panel members gave equal weight to traditional AIDS scientists (like the CDC’s Dr. Helene Gayle, HIV pioneer Luc Montagnier and South Africa’s Dr. Malegapuru Makgoba) and so-called AIDS "dissidents" like Rasnick, who’s an expert in enzyme inhibitors and has been questioning mainstream AIDS theories for two decades, and UC Berkeley retrovirologist Peter Duesberg, who’s long argued that HIV does not cause AIDS. That Mbeki was giving them for the first time ever an official government platform to air their arguments against standard HIV/AIDS theory elicited shrieks of dismay around the world.

David Rasnick's contributions to Mbeki's expert AIDS panel
How the mainstream refused to participate in Mbeki's internet discussions and other fascinating insights.

The Perth Group's presentation to Mbeki's expert AIDS panel
This is the presentation made to the Presidential Panel in Johannesberg on Monday July 3rd 2000 by the Perth Group. It addressed the topic “HIV Testing and Surveillance”. The presentation has been edited to include extra data pointing to a cellular origin for the “HIV” proteins.

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