Mbeki AIDS Denial Killed 365K in South Africa

Study blames Mbeki for keeping antiretrovirals from citizens
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2008 6:54 AM CST
A blind woman holds her son's shoulder March 28, 2004 in Richards Bay, South Africa. The woman's husband has AIDS leaving her to be the sole provider for them and their two sons.    (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – South Africa's failure to provide antiretroviral drugs to AIDS patients has cost 365,000 lives,  a new Harvard study finds. The report places the blame for the deaths with ousted president Thabo Mbeki, whose denial of AIDS' viral cause led Africa's richest country to ignore its sick citizens while other southern African nations provided medicine, the New York Times reports.

On his first day in office, new South African president Kgalema Motlanthe fired the government's health minister, who notoriously advised garlic, lemon juice, and beetroot as treatment for AIDS. Her replacement, who is trying to accelerate the expansion of antiretroviral treatments to the nation's 5.7 million HIV-positive citizens, said she felt "ashamed" by the Harvard report, but added, "The era of denialism is over completely in South Africa."