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2000: Mbeki contests HIV and AIDS Link

In an interview with Time magazine in September 2000, Mbeki was asked: "Are you prepared to acknowledge that there is a link between HIV and AIDS?"

Mbeki's response: "No, I am saying that you cannot attribute immune deficiency solely and exclusively to a virus. There may very well be a virus … If the scientists ... say this virus is part of the variety of things from which people acquire immune deficiency, I have no problem with that." "The problem is that once you say immune deficiency is acquired from that virus your response will be anti-retroviral drugs,'" he added.

After Time published the interview, government-sponsored advertisements were placed in national newspapers to "clarify" the government's position.

The advertisement read:

"The published edited version in Time, on which many critics now depend, conflated his remarks in a way which could give rise to a misunderstanding over his use of the word 'no' after being asked if he was prepared to acknowledge that there was a link between HIV and AIDS. In fact, the president went on to say 'you cannot attribute immune deficiency solely and exclusively to a virus'. The context of the full transcript makes it expressly clear he was prepared to accept that HIV might 'very well' be a causal factor."

Wits Journalism Anova Health

The project is jointly managed by the Anova Health Institute and the Journalism and Media Studies Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand. The project is funded by by the Health Communication Partnership based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Centre for Communication Programmes and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief through the United States Agency for International Development under terms of Award No. JH/HESA-02-05 and through the Anova Health Institute through PEPFAR via USAID under Award No. AID-674-A-12-00015.