Chief Science Officer, Boveran, Inc.
San Ramon, CA 94583
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Peter Flegg cites two South African newspapers as evidence that Mbeki has distanced himself from the AIDS dissidents and that his AIDS Panel is defunct. He says that, "It is quite clear that Mbeki has tired of dissidents using the designation "Member of the Presidential AIDS Panel". He also asks, "on what occasions has [the Panel] met since July 2000, or when the next meeting is to be held?
Flegg failed to cite the Health Minister saying that, "Rasnick may sign himself as presidential panelist because that is what he is" (1).
Flegg also failed to cite the government's response to the newspaper reports that he cited. Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, replied that, "no decision had been taken to disband the panel or to instruct its members to refrain from using Mbeki's name" (2).
To this day, none of the members of Mbeki's AIDS Advisory Panel has been instructed by the government to stop identifying himself or herself as a member of the panel. We have also not been informed that the AIDS Advisory Panel has been disbanded.
In welcoming the international group of AIDS experts to the first Panel meeting in May 2000, Mbeki said that we were to advise the SA government as individuals and not as representatives of any organizations. That point was made clear at subsequent meetings.
The government of SA continues to seek our services. October 2001, Harvey Bialy, Sam Mhlongo and I participated in a meeting with other SA members of the AIDS Advisory Panel to develop protocols for future experiments to determine the accuracy of the HIV antibody test. Roberto Giraldo, also a member of the AIDS Advisory Panel, just returned from SA last Sunday after advising the government on nutrition and AIDS. Just months before, at the request of the Health Minister, he participated in a large meeting on nutrition and AIDS.
The interim report of the AIDS Advisory Panel that was published March 2001, recommended ten experiments and studies that address hotly disputed questions about the contagious/HIV hypothesis of AIDS, the validity of the HIV antibody tests, and the safety and efficacy of the anti-HIV drugs (3). All ten have been approved by the government and the funds allocated. Members of the AIDS Advisory Panel will conduct and oversee these experiments and studies.
This is strong evidence that the Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel continues to be of service to the people and government of SA.
David Rasnick, PhD Member of the Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel
1) No Stopping This AIDS Dissident, Business Day, Johannesburg, September 14, 2001.
2) HIV/Aids Dissidents Cling to Their Links With Mbeki, Business Day, Johannesburg, April 26, 2002.
3) Secretariat for Thabo Mbeki (March 2001), Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel Report, Johannesburg.
Competing interests: None declared