President Thabo Mbeki’s suppression of scientific information about AIDS has led to the deaths of thousands of people in South Africa. According to a new study conducted by Harvard researchers, the South African government could have prevented 330,000 premature deaths of AIDS patients had it supplied them with antiretroviral drugs. Those same drugs could have prevented pregnant women from infecting the 35,000 babies who died from H.I.V. infection.
These 365,000 South Africans died because Mr. Mbeki denied the well-established science on the viral cause of AIDS. As a result, he saw no use for antiretroviral drugs, and, according to the New York Times, argued they were toxic. His health minister recommended instead people treat themselves with garlic, lemon juice, and beetroot.
Had Mr. Mbeki not suppressed widely accepted truths about the cause of AIDS, thousands of deaths could have been prevented. We must stop the distortion and suppression of scientific information here and abroad. Lives depend on it.