ABC News Producer Challenges Political Commentator Andrew Sullivan to an Internet Debate Over Mbeki’s HIV/AIDS Policies
ABC News medical producer and author Nicholas Regush yesterday on his Web site, www.nicholasregush.com, issued a challenge to "conservative" journalist Andrew Sullivan to write a detailed analysis of why he thinks South African President Thabo Mbeki's HIV/AIDS policies are "mad" (nicholasregush.com, 10/29). On Saturday, Sullivan published an opinion piece on his Web site, www.andrewsullivan.com, titled "Mbeki's Madness," criticizing Mbeki's "criminal lack of response to the AIDS epidemic in his country." Sullivan challenged Mbeki's stance that antiretroviral drugs are toxic and said that Mbeki has attempted to "dispel Western medicine as equivalent to bigotry" by saying medical doctors who promote the use of the drugs view South Africans as "natural-born, promiscuous carriers of germs" (andrewsullivan.com, 10/27). Regush states that Sullivan's piece "smacks of high emotionalism without any beef." He goes on to cite a recent study published in the Lancet that found that up to two-thirds of people taking antiretroviral medications experience side effects and argues that there is "nothing mad" about Mbeki's insistence that poverty, malnutrition and other diseases are factors in South Africa's AIDS crisis. He asks Sullivan to take a week to write a 1,500-word essay stating his case against Mbeki "as definitively as [he] can." Regush says he will write a similar essay explaining why "Mbeki is not crazy" regardless of whether or not Sullivan takes him up on his challenge. He suggests that if Sullivan is "game," they both publish their essays on their respective Web sites with a link between them for comparison. The challenge can be taken up at any time, Regush states, adding that he has sent Sullivan an email formally asking him to write an essay (nicholasregush.com, 10/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.