An Inclusive Litany

12/8/00

After President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa refused to distribute AZT to pregnant women last year because he didn't believe the HIV virus caused AIDS, a South African newspaper polled all 27 of members of his cabinet, only one of whom said that HIV causes AIDS.

This August, the country's health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, forwarded an anonymous memo to various officials, addressed to all African health ministers, that claimed AIDS was being intentionally spread among Africans by Western nations through smallpox vaccines. She also forwarded material cited by the memo, a chapter from a book by William Cooper called Behold a Pale Horse, that claims involvement in the conspiracy by extraterrestrials and the Illuminati.

[Ed.: The following June, several AIDS- and African-advocacy groups called for the dismissal of Andrew Natsios, the new head of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Natsios delivered a speech in which he suggested that administering AIDS treatment programs in Africa would be particularly difficult because of a feeble health infrastructure and because many Africans didn't have the clocks or watches necessary to tell when to take medication at specific times in the day. It may be difficult to evaluate those concerns, but note another story, reported on "60 Minutes," of a rape epidemic in South Africa, partly fueled by a belief that you can cure AIDS by having sex with a virgin.]

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