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."