South African President Thabo Mbeki ‘Heckled’ by Scottish AIDS Activists
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who caused an "international uproar" more than a year ago when he publicly questioned the causal link between HIV and AIDS, was "heckled" yesterday by Scottish protestors shouting "AIDS is the new apartheid," as he attended the opening ceremony for a Glasgow Caledonian University health building named after his father, the Associated Press reports. Carrying signs that read "The Right to Life: The Right to Treatment" and "Wake up -- HIV Equals AIDS," a "few" activists greeted Mbeki, who made no mention of AIDS in Africa in the speech he delivered to nearly 400 students and officials. Mbeki, who "reignited" controversy in April by questioning the "value" of HIV tests and rejecting proposals to provide antiretroviral drugs to South Africans with HIV/AIDS, has "bred confusion" about the disease and "how to deal" with the country's epidemic, according to AIDS activists (Associated Press, 6/13). Mbeki did concede that "much still needed to be done" with respect to the disease, adding, "It clearly cannot be business as usual when communicable diseases such as TB and malaria, HIV/AIDS continue to kill and prevent millions of Africans from functioning at their full potential." Observers said AIDS is "firmly off the agenda" during Mbeki's four-day trip to Great Britain, one of South Africa's largest trading partners. Mbeki is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Tony Blair today and is using the trip to ask wealthy nations to "slash" debt burdens in the developing world and to "urge" companies to invest in South Africa (Times of India, 6/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.