The politics of AIDS in South Africa 28 February 2003
Previous Rapid Response Next Rapid Response Top
David Rasnick,
Chief Science Officer, Boveran, inc.
San Ramon, CA 94583

Send response to journal:
Re: The politics of AIDS in South Africa

Dear Editor,

Didier Fassin and Helen Schneider wish to talk about "The politics of AIDS in South Africa". Let's do just that.

Almost daily the newspapers and television tell us that 25 million people have died of AIDS, and there are upwards of 40 million people infected with HIV. However, since the USA reports a cumulative number of only three quarters of a million AIDS cases since 1980, and Europe reports even fewer, that means that over 95% of all those AIDS deaths and HIV infected people must be somewhere else. That somewhere else, according to the newspapers, is Africa, India, and increasingly China.

Because of its international importance, South Africa is the biggest roadblock impeding the expansion of American-dominated AIDS Incorporated throughout the developing world. The battle to determine the future of AIDS Inc. is being waged right now in South Africa.

South African president Thabo Mbeki's government is justifiably suspicious of the rush to get the highly toxic anti-HIV drugs into South African bodies. The South African government is currently conducting trials in 18 centers across the country to determine the safety and efficacy of administering the anti-HIV drug nevirapine to pregnant women and their babies. The trial was to be completed in December 2002 but not enough women have volunteered. However, AIDS Inc. cannot afford to let this trial go to completion for two reasons: 1) the results may show that the drug is neither safe nor efficacious, and 2) the government of South Africa cannot be permitted to set the example of acting independently of AIDS Inc. when it comes to AIDS.

Realizing that South Africa is crucial to its expansion, AIDS Inc. drafted former president Jimmy Carter and billionaire Bill Gates to do battle with Thabo Mbeki in March, 2002. Carter said he and Gates believed South Africa had not made "adequate progress" in preventing new cases of Aids, which were increasing "by leaps and bounds every day".

Jimmy Carter urged President Mbeki to learn the lessons from poorer African countries that have been much more effective in fighting AIDS--which translated means those African countries that have submitted to the hegemony of AIDS Inc.

Former president Mandela joined Carter and the other drugs-into- bodies enthusiasts saying that, "We can't afford to be conducting debates while people are dying. We have to ensure that our people are given the drugs which are going to help them. This is a war."

War, indeed! President Clinton declared AIDS a national security threat to the USA in 2000, right before Mbeki's State visit to the Whitehouse.

On March 10, 2002, Smuts Ngonyama of the African National Congress (ANC) lashed out at Jimmy Carter's attempt to pressure Mbeki's government.

"We are also surprised at the comments made by the [Carter] delegation about anti-retrovirals drugs in general and Nevirapine in particular.

"We do not understand why US citizens urge this drug upon us when the health authorities in their own country do not allow its use for mother-to-child transmission [of HIV]. One of the reasons for this is that these health authorities say that there is insufficient data about issues of the safety of the drug.

"We find it alarming that President Carter is willing to treat our people as guinea pigs, in the interest of the pharmaceutical companies, which he would not do in his own country.

"The comments he and others made after meeting with President Mbeki indicate the true purpose of his visit to our country, which was arranged without the knowledge of the government.

"Once more, we would like to assure President Carter that our government is firmly committed to meet the health challenges facing our people, including AIDS, STD's, TB, cholera, malaria and others.

"For this, we do not need the interference and contemptuous attitude of President Carter or anybody else. As South Africans, we have the possibility to find solutions to our problems, as the people of the US have.

"We are not arrogant to presume that we know what the US should do to respond to its many domestic challenges. Nobody from elsewhere in the world should presume they have a superior right to tell us what to do with our own challenges."

If AIDS Inc. can pry open the drugs-into-bodies floodgates in South Africa, then billions of dollars will pour through Africa, India, and China on their way to the bank accounts of American and other drug companies. The giant corporations will get richer beyond measure whether or not giving nevirapine to women and children (or anybody else for that matter) is a good idea as Costa Gazi, Zackie Achmat, Jimmy Carter, Bill Gates, and Nelson Mandela claim, or insane and criminal as the black box warning label of nevirapine makes clear.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 2001,

Viramune (nevirapine)


"Severe, life-threatening, and in some cases fatal hepatotoxicity, including fulminant and cholestatic hepatitis, hepatic necrosis and hepatic failure, has been reported in patients treated with VIRAMUNE . In some cases, patients presented with non- specific prodromal signs or symptoms of hepatitis and progressed to hepatic failure. Some events occurred after short-term exposure to VIRAMUNE. Patients with signs or symptoms of hepatitis must seek medical evaluation immediately and should be advised to discontinue VIRAMUNE. (See WARNINGS)

"Severe, life-threatening skin reactions, including fatal cases, have occurred in patients treated with VIRAMUNE. These have included cases of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and hypersensitivity reactions characterized by rash, constitutional findings, and organ dysfunction. Patients developing signs or symptoms of severe skin reactions or hypersensitivity reactions must discontinue VIRAMUNE as soon as possible. (See WARNINGS)

"The first 12 weeks of therapy with VIRAMUNE are a critical period during which it is essential that patients be monitored intensively to detect potentially life-threatening hepatotoxicity or skin reactions. VIRAMUNE should not be restarted following severe hepatic, skin or hypersensitivity reactions. In addition, the 14-day lead-in period with VIRAMUNE 200 mg daily dosing must be strictly followed. (See WARNINGS)"

David Rasnick

Competing interests:   Member of Mbeki's AIDS Advisory Panel