South African panel recognizes HIV as cause of AIDS

A controversial panel appointed by South African President Thabo Mbeki to look into the causes of AIDS has accepted the premise that the country’s AIDS epidemic is caused by HIV infection, at least for now.

“”Pending the outcome of further research, the debates of the panel have not provided grounds for Government to depart from its current approach to the HIV/AIDS problem, which is rooted in the premise that HIV causes AIDS,” Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said in a statement on Wednesday on the interim report by the panel.

The report said scientists would conduct a three-phased inquiry into the validity of current HIV testing practices.

Mbeki was widely criticized for appointing advisers who questioned the link between HIV and AIDS to the panel formed more than a year ago, and for denying the use of antiretroviral drugs in the public health system on cost and safety grounds.

Mbeki said at the time of the panel’s creation that science could not claim to “constitute biblical absolute truths.”

So-called “dissidents” argue that AIDS is not caused by HIV, but is a result of a breakdown of the body’s immune system brought on by recreational drug use, antiretroviral drugs, such as AZT, or poverty.

Virtually all experts agree that HIV causes AIDS.

Source: Reuters Health

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