Mbeki’s Lack of Definitive Action Against AIDS Proves ‘Deadly’ for South Africa, Chicago Tribune Editorial States
"Denial is always dangerous. But in South Africa, it has proven deadly," a Chicago Tribune editorial states. Although 4.7 million South Africans are estimated to have HIV, President Thabo Mbeki's government "inexplicably keeps denying South Africans the government attention, access to drugs and educational programs that offer the only real chance of success against" the disease, the editorial continues. The government recently announced that it will challenge a Pretoria High Court order to administer the antiretroviral drug nevirapine to all pregnant women in the public health system, saying that the ruling "may infringe on its right to determine and set national policy." This challenge is another example of the "haphazard, often confusing approach" to HIV/AIDS taken by Mbeki's government, the editorial states. Mbeki's insistence that AIDS drugs are toxic and his questioning of the causal link between HIV and AIDS has only "sow[n] uncertainty about the disease ... perpetuat[ing] unsafe sex, risky behavior, even child rape by men who have been told by traditional healers that sex with a virgin cures AIDS," the editorial says. "South Africa's plight demands unequivocal leadership -- not denial and uncertainty -- about AIDS, rape and cataclysmic problems related to those scourges," the editorial concludes, adding that Mbeki is "defending the indefensible" (Chicago Tribune, 12/31).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.