Mbeki presided over a country where nearly one-fifth of the adult population carries the AIDS virus.
In a glaring example of the importance of theory in practice, U.S. researchers have accused former South African President Thabo Mbeki of being responsible for more than 300,000 AIDS-related “avoidable deaths,” pointing to Mbeki’s siding with a theoretical camp that argues AIDS is caused by a collapsed immune system, not a viral infection. As a result, offers of free drugs and grant money for AIDS treatment were rejected.
The Aids policies of the former South African president Thabo Mbeki’s government were directly responsible for the avoidable deaths of more than a third of a million people in the country, according to research by Harvard university.
South Africa has one of the severest HIV/Aids epidemics in the world. About 5.5 million people, or 18.8% of the adult population, have HIV, according to the UN. In 2005, there were about 900 deaths a day.
But from the late 1990s Mbeki turned his back on the scientific consensus that Aids was caused by a viral infection that could be fought—though not cured—by sophisticated and expensive medical drugs. He came under the influence of a group of maverick scientists known as Aids denialists, most prominent among whom was Peter Duesberg from Berkeley, California.