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Mbeki sticks to his guns on HIV & Aids, nutrition

He claims ARVs should be used with great care, mindful of the importance of a healthy immune system.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Former president Thabo Mbeki has used his weekly newsletter to say he was not wrong to question why so many people in Southern Africa contracted Aids and to suggest that nutrition is still one of the major causes of its infection rate.

During Mbeki's presidency he tried to stop the provision of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, while his health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, said lemons, beetroot, African potatoes and garlic were better treatments for people living with Aids.

He also claims today's ARVs should be used with great care and caution, mindful of the importance of a healthy immune system.

In his latest newsletter the former president quotes from a document he helped to write in 2002 called Castro Hlongwane: HIV/Aids and the struggle for the humanisation of the African.

He says it shows that in the US, Aids appeared confined to homosexual people, while in Africa heterosexual people spread the disease.

He then asks why that was the case and appears to again question whether ARVs should be used.

Mark Heywood was one of the leaders of the Treatment Action Campaign during Mbeki's presidency, saying, "What we've seen today is Thabo Mbeki putting up his hand and saying 'I'm an Aids denialist and have always been an Aids denialist and I'm still an Aids denialist'."

Since President Jacob Zuma introduced ARV's into government hospitals in 2009, life expectancy in South Africa has increased by 10 years.

To read Mbeki's latest newsletter click here.

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