South African Health Minister Asks ‘Controversial AIDS Dissident’ To Serve as Government Adviser on Nutrition
South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang last week asked a "controversial U.S. AIDS dissident" to serve as an adviser to the government, the South Africa's Sunday Times reports. Tshabalala-Msimang said she would ask Dr. Roberto Giraldo -- who has said that that inadequate nutrition, rather than HIV, causes AIDS -- to advise the government on nutrition, after the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization on Feb. 25 released a manual that details the role of nutrition in HIV disease progression and "suggests how people with HIV/AIDS can fight the disease with a balanced diet," the Times reports. Tshabalala-Msimang said that the manual supports the position of the South African government. "The WHO report vindicates our position that you can't overlook nutrition and just focus on drugs. Drugs on their own will not help. If you do not address the state of hunger, you have not begun dealing with the problem," she said (Msomi/Munusamy, Sunday Times, 3/9). In January, Tshabalala-Msimang invited Giraldo to speak on HIV/AIDS treatment at a forum of Southern African Development Community health ministers (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/10). At the forum, Giraldo said, "The transmission of AIDS from person to person is a myth. ... No matter what the debate might be on the role of HIV in AIDS, malnourishment is at the center of its progression." WHO scientist Randa Saaden, one of the authors of the manual, said, "We never said [nutrition] replaces antiretroviral drugs. Proper nutrition complements medication. It is not an alternative." Sibani Mngadi, a spokesperson for Tshabalala-Msimang, said, "We are not interested in (Giraldo's) belief around the causal link between HIV and AIDS, and he is not expected to advise the government on that issue" (Sunday Times, 3/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.