Mbeki concedes that HIV can lead to Aids

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The Independent Online

Thabo Mbeki, who has come under international criticism for his government's response to the Aids pandemic, said yesterday HIV could lead to Aids but reiterated his belief that it was not the sole cause.

Thabo Mbeki, who has come under international criticism for his government's response to the Aids pandemic, said yesterday HIV could lead to Aids but reiterated his belief that it was not the sole cause.

"Aids is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. I don't believe it's a sensible thing to ask: 'Does a virus cause a syndrome?"' he said. "It can't. A virus will cause a disease."

President Mbeki said the United States had classified that syndrome as comprising 29 different disease. "The syndrome [Aids] is a group of diseases as a result of immune deficiency," he said. "I have no problem that this virus [HIV] contributes to the collapse of the immune system."

The Centers for Disease Control, which spearheads US government efforts to fight disease, has established a websitedetailing the "overwhelming scientific consensus that HIV causes Aids". Mr Mbeki's verbal gymnastics on the link between HIV and Aids have drawn criticism from activists, who accuse him of undermining efforts to combat the disease in a country where an estimated 10 per cent of the 42 million people are HIV positive.

Mr Mbeki said: "I would agree all of us, the way we have handled this matter, might have resulted in this confusion." ( AP)

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