South African Anglican Bishop Says Mbeki’s Questioning of HIV/AIDS Link Has Fueled Disease Spread
South African Anglican Bishop Peter Lee recently sent a letter to Cedric Mayson, the African National Congress' religious affairs director, saying that President Thabo Mbeki's questioning of the causal link between HIV and AIDS has led many men in the rural KwaZulu-Natal province to erroneously believe that sex and AIDS are "not linked," the Daily Mail & Guardian reports. Therefore, the men have not altered their sexual behavior to protect themselves and their partners from the disease. In the letter, Lee said that his daughter, who worked as a doctor in the province as part of a community service project in 1998, was "constantly" told by men that the "big man [Mbeki] says there is no connection between sex and AIDS -- so I will carry on as before." That assumption is "destroying human lives across this country," Lee told Mayson in the "latest in a series of acrimonious exchanges" between Mayson and church leaders. Mayson called the criticism a "disgusting ploy" on the part of church leaders, saying that their concerns were "political attacks," and asked Lee whether he was "wrongly promoting the notion that Mbeki denies a connection between sex and AIDS." Lee answered that Mbeki's remarks have been "universally construed as fudging the causal link between sexual behavior and the disease -- for whatever motive." Lee added that Mbeki has not publicly declared "that personal behavior change is the key to cracking the epidemic" as "every other" African leader has done (Kindra, Daily Mail & Guardian, 11/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.