2001: Mbeki Questions HIV Testing
On April 24, 2001, an interview between investigative journalist Deborah Patta and President Thabo Mbeki was aired on e.TV, a South African independent television channel.
Patta asked the president whether he would take an HIV test. Mbeki replied:
"So the matter of whether I take an HIV test or not I think is irrelevant to the matter. It might be dramatic, and make newspaper headlines … [Patta (interrupting):] But would it not set an example — the president takes an AIDS test? Mbeki: No, but it would be setting an example within the context of a particular paradigm … Now I don't believe that stunts — publicity stunts — help in addressing the health needs of our people …"
Mbeki also referred to the experiments that were being conducted by the Presidential Advisory Panel to interrogate the HIV test.
"Let's deal with the science of it. The panel said one of the things we have got to do is to determine when you do an HIV test, what is the test testing. And those were the scientists: what is it measuring? So I go and do a test, I'm confirming a particular paradigm. It doesn't help in addressing this health need."
He also continued his defence for not providing AIDS drugs on grounds of toxicity:
"So, do I go down the street dispensing these pills knowing from the best science there is that there are these consequences which science itself says we don't know enough? No."