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South Africa takes pressure off Manto


Baltimore, Gallo, TAC manage to force concession

Committee will oversee AIDS program

But Mayo Clinic study backs Dr. Beetroot as correct – beetroot very relevant

Apparently the AIDS drug friendly, activist Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in South Africa, having enlisted Baltimore, Gallo and 79 other scientists loyal to the “HIV is the only cause of AIDS” cause, have scored a success with the asinine letter they sent to Mbeki this week.

They have managed to force Mbeki’s hand and have him remove overall responsibility for the country’s AIDS program from the relatively enlightened Health Minister Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang to a commission headed by the Deputy President.

Government spokesman Themba Maseko defended the minister, but said Friday the Cabinet had appointed a committee headed by Deputy President Phumzilie Mlambo-Ngcuka to oversee the implementation of the country’s AIDS program…

Maseko, the government spokesman, said the health minister had made it clear that South Africa’s program included anti-retrovirals and nutrition, but that she might have given the impression the focus was on nutrition and specific nutrients.

”Nutrition is not an alternative to anti-retrovirals or forms of treatment. This has always been the government approach on this matter,” Maseko said. ”Equally, the misconception that anti-retrovirals are a cure for AIDS is not only misleading but dangerous as it creates false hopes.”

We imagine this is just a sop to ease the political pressure and remove Manto as a target for the TAC and its scientist friends, which won’t have much effect on South African policy in practice.

For that policy appears to be to allow people to have ARVs if that is what they insist on, but to point out they do not save anyone’s life (the Lancet having confirmed that only last month) and that nourishing food may be more appropriate, according to the overall scientific review of mainstream HIV∫AIDS that is denied by Gallo, Baltimore and the other not unbiased people in the roll call of infamy that is the List of 81.

The statement of the government spokesman seems to embody this fudged position, which arises out of the involvement of Mbeki with the rethinker view which started before the AIDS Conference in Durban in 2001, when he was tipped off to the dissident position by a female journalist and reviewed the matter on the Web, and was suitably impressed.

Mbeki is an intelligent man (he is an economist with an English university degree – Sussex MA – in the field) and one of the few politicians who are capable of thinking for themselves when faced with this issue. Here is Thabo Mbeki’s CV if you would like to read it:

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Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki

President of South Africa

President, ANC

Member, National Executive Committee, ANC

Member, National Working Committee, ANC

President of South Africa

People like to identify Thabo Mbeki as an independent and original thinker, but one who remains close to the more visible leadership. His profile as a policy shaper and mediator in the movement has been built up over a lifetime of involvement. “I was born into the struggle,” he says. His birth took place in Idutywa, Transkei, in June 1942.

Both his parents were teachers and activists. His father is a university graduate and there were many books in his home which Thabo read at an early age. Govan Mbeki was a leading figure in ANC activities in the Eastern Cape. Believing that sooner or later they would be arrested, Mbeki’s parents decided that family and friends would also be responsible for bringing up the children. Mbeki therefore spent long periods away from home.

He joined the Youth League at 14 and quickly became active in student politics. After his schooling at Lovedale was interrupted by a strike in 1959, he completed his studies at home. Thereafter he moved to Johannesburg where he came under the guidance of Walter Sisulu and Duma Nokwe.

While studying for his British A-levels he was elected secretary of the African Students’ Association (ASA). He went on to study economics as a correspondence student with London University. The ASA collapsed following the arrest of many of its members, at a time when political movements were coming under increasingly severe attack from the state. Mbeki’s father was arrested at Rivonia and sentenced to life imprisonment.

He left the country in 1962 under orders from the ANC. From Tanzania he moved to Britain where he completed a Masters degree in economics at Sussex University in 1966. Remaining active in student politics, he played a prominent role in building the youth and student sections of the ANC in exile.

Following his studies he worked at the London office with the late Oliver Tambo and Yusuf Dadoo before being sent to the Soviet Union in 1970 for military training. Later that year he arrived in Lusaka where he was soon appointed assistant secretary of the Revolutionary Council. In 1973-74 he was in Botswana holding discussions with the Botswana government about opening an ANC office there. In 1975 he was acting ANC representative in Swaziland. Appointed to the NEC in 1975, he served as ANC representative to Nigeria until 1978.

On his return to Lusaka he became political secretary in the office of Oliver Tambo, and then director of information. From this position he played a major role in turning the international media against apartheid. His other role in the ’70s was in building the ANC in Swaziland and underground structures inside the country.

During the ’80s Mbeki rose to head the department of information and publicity and co-ordinated diplomatic campaigns to involve more white South Africans in anti-apartheid activities. When delegations of sports, business and cultural representatives visited Lusaka for talks they all expressed surprise to meet a man deeply engaged in the issues they brought to the table.

From 1989 Mbeki headed the ANC Department of International Affairs, and was a key figure in the ANC’s negotiations with the former government.

Mbeki was hand-picked by Nelson Mandela after the April 1994 general election to be the first Deputy President of the new Government of National Unity.

At the 50th Conference of the ANC at Mafikeng, from 16-20 1997, Thabo Mbeki was elected as the new President of the African National Congress.

Thabo Mbeki was elected President of South Africa on 14 June 1999 and was inaugurated as President on 16 June 1999.

Profile of Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki

Personal

Date of birth: 18 June 1942, Idutywa, Queenstown, one of four children of Govan and Epainette Mbeki

Marital status: Married to Zanele Dlamini (1974)

Academic Qualifications

* Attended primary school in Idutywa and Butterworth

* Acquired high school education at Lovedale, Alice

* Expelled from school as a result of student strikes (1959) and forced to continue studies at home

* Sat for matriculation examinations at St John’s High School, Umtata (1959)

* Completed British “A” levels examinations (1960 and 1961)

* Undertook first year economics degree as an external student with the University of London (1961 – 1962)

* Master of Economics degree, University of Sussex (1966)

Career details

* Joined ANC Youth League (ANCYL) while a student at Lovedale Institute (1956)

* Involved in underground activities in the Pretoria-Witwatersrand area after the ANC was banned in 1960

* Involved in mobilising the students and youth in support of the ANC call for a stay at home in protest against the creation of a Republic (1961)

* Elected Secretary of the African Students Association (December 1961)

* Left South Africa together with other students on instructions of the ANC (1962). Went to the then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), the then Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and the United Kingdom to study

* Continued with political activities as a university student in the UK, mobilising the international student community against apartheid

* Worked for the ANC office in London (1967 – 1970). Underwent military training in the then Soviet Union during this period

* Served as Assistant Secretary to the Revolutionary Council of the ANC in Lusaka (1971)

* Sent to Botswana (1973). He was among the first ANC leaders to have contact with exiled and visiting members of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). As a result of his contact and discussions with the BCM, some of the leading members of this organisation found their way into the ranks of the ANC

* The focus of his activities during this time was to consolidate the underground structures of the ANC and to mobilise the people inside South Africa

* Engaged the Botswana government in discussions to open an ANC office in that country. Left Botswana (1974)

* Sent to Swaziland as acting representative of the ANC. Part of his task was the internal mobilisation and the creation of underground structures

* Became a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC (1975)

* Sent to Nigeria (December 1976) as a representative of the ANC. Played a major role in assisting students from South Africa to relocate in an unfamiliar enviroment

* Left Nigeria and returned to Lusaka (February 1978)

* Political Secretary in the Office of the President of the ANC (1978)

* Director of the Department of Information and Publicity (1984 – 1989)

* Re-elected to the NEC (1985). Served as Director of Information and as Secretary for Presidential Affairs

* Member of the ANC ‘s political and military council

* Member of the delegation that met South African business community led by the Chairman of Anglo American, Gavin Relly, at Mfuwe, Zambia (1985)

* Led a delegation of the ANC to Dakar, Senegal, where talks were held with a delegation from the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa (Idasa) (1987)

* Led the ANC delegation which held secret talks with the South African government from 1989 and which led to agreements about the unbanning of the ANC and the release of political prisoners

* Part of the delegation which engaged the government in “talks about talks”. He participated in the Groote Schuur and Pretoria deliberations, which resulted in the agreements which became known as the Groote Schuur and Pretoria Minutes (1990)

* Participated in all subsequent negotiations leading to the adoption of the interim Constitution for the new South Africa

* Elected chairperson of the ANC (1993). The election to this post meant succeeding the late former President and chairperson of the ANC, OR Tambo, with whom he had a close working relationship over the years

* Executive Deputy President of the South African Government of National Unity (May 1994 – June 1999)

* Elected President of the African National Congress, 18 December 1997

* Inaugurated as President of South Africa, 16 June 1999

Source: Office of the Deputy Executive President, 26 August 1994 (Confirmed, 13 September 1996)

One of the questions he reportedly asked early on was, why was there a sudden switch from urban gay AIDS in Africa, which is what it started out as, to poor rural heterosexual AIDS? This inexplicable switch, according to our informants, is what made Mbeki take the dissidents seriously from the start.

Whatever the truth in that, it is clear that Mbeki is possibly the only international politician with his head screwed on straight as far as AIDS is concerned, and whatever concessions he has to make to the TAC led mob, he is not going to stop offering healthy atlernatives to the drugs the activists love so much.

Dr Beetroot is a name to be proud of

One of the more ridiculous things about this lunatic affair is that the ignorant activists’ label for Health Minister Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Dr Beetroot, is, truth be told, nothing to be ashamed of, according to the scientific literature, for the important ingredient in beetroot is betaine, and mainstream researchers have found it is indeed very beneficial to the liver, which is the chief organ attacked by HAART, the resulting deterioration being the cause of death or transplant in many AIDS cases in the US. Liver damage is not an AIDS symptom.

For example, the paper at the top of the pile at NAR HQ is “Betaine, a promising new agent for patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: results of a pilot study”, from the American Journal of Gastroenterology, September 2001 (96.:2534-6).

Drs Abdelmalek et al from the Mayo Clinic found that the vile condition of fatty liver (steato means fat) was significantly improved if patients (ten of them in this study over 12 months) were given betaine orally in two doses daily. Their conclusion: Betaine is a safe and well tolerated drug that leads to a significant biochemical and histological improvement in patients with NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis). This novel agent deserves further evaluation in a randomized, placebo controlled trial.

Of course, that placebo controlled trial wouldn’t be possible in the grim fairy tale kingdom of HIV∫AIDS, since no placebo-controlled trials have ever been carried out in the era of HAART, since “ethics” bar the witholding of HAART from anyone with “AIDS”.

So it would not be much good the Mayo group buying tickets from Rochester to South Africa and conducting a trial for Dr Beetroot in the very agent she recommends and they have tested and found beneficial. TAC and the generous and ethical NIAID trial administrators wouldn’t allow anyone to try betaine on any of the hapless Africans without making sure they got liver damaging ARVs in the bargain.

(show)

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: September 9, 2006

Filed at 10:53 p.m. ET

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) — South Africa’s government scaled back the influence of its minister for AIDS policy, pilloried for questioning the effectiveness of anti-retroviral drug treatments and promoting beetroot, garlic and African potatoes as ways to fight AIDS.

A group of international scientists called for Health Minister Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, nicknamed ”Dr. Beetroot,” to be fired and they labeled South Africa’s program ”inefficient and immoral.”

Government spokesman Themba Maseko defended the minister, but said Friday the Cabinet had appointed a committee headed by Deputy President Phumzilie Mlambo-Ngcuka to oversee the implementation of the country’s AIDS program.

”We need to shift focus from saying the problem in the program is the minister of health,” Maseko said.

In an open letter to President Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday, 81 international AIDS scientists called the health minister an embarrassment to South Africa who has undermined HIV science and who has no international respect.

The scientists include American Nobel Laureate David Baltimore and Dr. Robert Gallo, a co-discoverer of the virus that causes AIDS and developer of the first HIV blood test. They called for an end to South Africa’s ”disastrous, pseudoscientific policies” and urged Mbeki to remove the health minister immediately.

With the letter the scientists joined mounting calls by AIDS activists and opposition parties for the president to fire Tshabalala-Msimang.

South Africa has an estimated 5.5 million people infected with HIV, a number second only to India and one that amounts to about an eighth of estimated cases worldwide. On average, more than 900 people die of the disease each day in South Africa. The government said Thursday that the adult death rate had climbed significantly over a seven-year period, largely because of AIDS.

Mbeki previously has expressed doubts about the connection between HIV and AIDS, and along with Tshabalala-Msimang has questioned the effectiveness of anti-retroviral drugs in treating the disease.

Tshabalala-Msimang’s office said in a statement Friday that there was a campaign aimed at deliberately misrepresenting the government’s program to fight the disease.

Her statement and the Cabinet reacted not only to the scientists’ letter, but also to other attacks on its policies at the International AIDS conference in Toronto last month, including a scathing one by Stephen Lewis, the U.N. special envoy for AIDS in Africa.

”It is the only country in Africa … whose government is still obtuse, dilatory and negligent about rolling out treatment,” Lewis said. ”It is the only country in Africa whose government continues to promote theories more worthy of a lunatic fringe than of a concerned and compassionate state.”

The scientists noted that at the AIDS conference, the South African exhibition featured garlic, lemons and African potatoes, ”with the implication that these dietary elements are alternative treatments.”

Maseko, the government spokesman, said the health minister had made it clear that South Africa’s program included anti-retrovirals and nutrition, but that she might have given the impression the focus was on nutrition and specific nutrients.

”Nutrition is not an alternative to anti-retrovirals or forms of treatment. This has always been the government approach on this matter,” Maseko said. ”Equally, the misconception that anti-retrovirals are a cure for AIDS is not only misleading but dangerous as it creates false hopes.”

The government, which did not provide AIDS drugs until forced to do so by a 2002 court ruling, said its AIDS program is now the largest in the world. It estimates it treats 140,000 people with anti-retroviral drugs.

However, that number is less than half of the target of 380,000 the government set in 2003 and well below the 500,000 South Africans that the scientists estimate now need the drugs to survive.

106 Responses to “South Africa takes pressure off Manto”

  1. Wilhelm Godschalk Says:

    John wrote:

    I forgot to say that, in this study, lamivudine well seems to thwart the long-term lethal effects of AZT

    There is a purely chemical explanation for that, pointed out to me by a French chemist. AZT is, apart from a DNA chain terminator, a strong oxidant because of the azido group. Lamivudine has anti-oxidant qualities, because it has a sulfur-containing ring, which can be opened up under physiological conditions, producing a thiol (-SH) group.

  2. McKiernan Says:

    Wilhelm,

    Thank you, yes, statistics are misused, that’s for sure.

    And the reference in ‘Oncogenes’ on page 209 under prediction number nine wherein it is announced (Duesberg) that 275,000 random sexual contacts are necessary for transmission of the hiv virus including its reference to Padian can be placed in the error file.

  3. Wilhelm Godschalk Says:

    Richard Jefferys wrote:

    Wilhem, do you really believe that the risk of disseminated MAC or CMV retinitis is no different in someone with >500 CD4 T cell count versus someone with
    No, I don’t really believe that. But my thoughts on the subject run a little deeper. I’m getting the impression that CD4 T-cell counts in healthy subjects run all over the map, both individually and on a time basis. This would be easy to check, by doing counts on a large cohort of healthy subjects.
    But I’m afraid that won’t be done for two reasons: 1. Nobody is making a buck off that kind of study. 2. The old lawyer’s credo: “If you think you won’t like the answer, don’t ask the question.”
    If CD4 counts vary in a natural way, a low count could mean nothing in terms of susceptibility to infectious disease. But if the immune system is already in bad shape, there is, of course, a structural reason for low T-cell counts.
    Anyhow, I see no reason why, if a subject’s CD4 count comes out low, we should destroy his immune system further by administering toxic drugs. Doesn’t it make more sense to build up immunity again? (For example, with lemons, garlic, and olive oil, as Tine van der Maas does in South Africa).
    Practicing physicians still assume (correctly) that a high count of white blood cells means there’s an infection going on. Why does HIV/AIDS science put everything on its ear by saying that a high count of a certain sub-class of these cells is suddenly a sign of good health, while a low (resting) count is bad news that requires drastic measures?

    John, do you have any thoughts on the mutations in hepatitis B reverse transcriptase that are associated with 3TC resistance?

    Well, I’m not John, but I would be very interested too in his views on this subject.
    My question: What has a vague virus such as Hepatitis B (Hey! I’m NOT saying it doesn’t exist, OK? Hep-C is the nonexisting one) to do with reverse transcriptase? Is Hep-B now a retrovirus, all of a sudden? What if all these reverse transcriptases were endogenous after all?

  4. john Says:

    Hey, Wilhelm,
    I have already answered it.

    Link

    I also discovered that électrophiles as NO+ was capable of accelerating the opening of the acetalic ring of lamivudine, to release glycolic aldehyde , probably used by the aldehyde réductase to reduce nitroantibiotics, isoxazoles ( bactrim )… (Carey and Sundberg).

    Finally, it is possible that lamivudine exerts its antioxidizing action only in an already very “oxidized” cell, where from its weak pharmacological toxicity. The haserd makes sometimes well things.

  5. Truthseeker Says:

    The adjusted hazard ratios only come into play for the comparison with the reference year that the researchers picked (1998), those comparisons do not alter the number of people that experienced AIDS events or died in 2001 (am I anywhere close to getting this point across?). – Jefferys

    Oh oh, reading this over, Richard, this is all wrong, so we hope that our response “No argument here” can be rescinded. Let’s repeat. Essentially what you have said and continue to say based on the raw percentages is misplaced, because it is the adjusted hazard ratios you have to go by, since you don’t know how each of these groups year by year were made up by other smaller groups with differing characteristics. Maybe one group was 900, and were followed for two months, and no one died. Maybe another group of 100 was followed for the year, and ten died. For the total of 1000, one would not say Aha! 1 per cent died. Nor that 11 out of 1000 was the number to use for comparison. That is what ‘adjusted’ means and represents: the effort we have to make to straighten out the raw data.

    Regrettably, you seem to continue to labor under what Walter Kerr called a “delusion of adequacy” in regard to your primitive analysis. Ask a statistician. Ask your colleague in HIV apologia, Chris Noble. Where is Chris Noble, by the way? Have you noticed that he has kept out of it? Why would that be, do you wonder? Because even he cannot rescue you from your error, we would say.

    Bottom line, HAART stinks by all indications, and its atrocious effects are reflected by the Lancet study in three respects – 1) a statistically insignificant but visible indication of a sharp rise of 29% in overall mortality when it was introduced, when one would have expected it to go down if HAART did any immediate good, 2) a good indication that that deterioration was maintained, and 3) a statistically significant rise in AIDS symptoms and mortality. The stuff ain’t good for you, Richard, face it. In fact we are told that you have already published your own skepticism in the form of support for immunologically helpful solutions.

    And by the way, with such brilliant results in curbing HIV load, and no improvement whatsoever shown in one or even two years in the condition of patients, doesn’t that tell you something about the relevance of HIV to the disease. Or should we spell that i-r-r-e-l-e-v-a-n-c-e?

  6. Robert Houston Says:

    Truthseeker’s interpretation of the superiority of adjusted hazard ratios versus crude percentages for the morbidity and mortality results in the Lancet study, which involved data from multiple disparate cohorts, is correct and would be in accordance with the views of sophisticated data analysts. These include the statisticians, epidemiologists and medical experts who co-authored the study and chose to use adjusted hazard ratios – not crude percentages – in reporting morbidity and mortality results in their text and abstract.

    Richard Jefferys understandably assumed that simple percentages based on raw numbers would be a guide to the direction and limits of the results. While this may be the case for a properly controlled clinical trial, the Lancet study was not a clinical trial. It was an analysis of data from multiple cohort studies in 12 different centers. For such data to be meaningful, sophisticated techniques and adjustments are needed for comparability. Otherwise, the results would be swamped and distorted by arbitrary differences in the size of particular cohorts and the particular biases in their data.

    “The adjusted hazard ratios only come into play for the comparison with the reference year that the researchers picked (1998)…”

    The above statement by Mr. Jefferys is also in error. Since the adjusted hazard ratios for different years were expressed in terms of the results for 1998 (which equalled “1”), they can be compared proportionally with each other, as is true of any values divided by the same constant ie coding by division (see the early section on coding in any basic textbook on statistics).

    Elsewhere, it’s been asserted by Mr. Jeffreys that none of the reported changes over the years of the study were significant. This is also incorrect. The increase in the risk of AIDS events (“including AIDS-related deaths”) from 1998 compared with 2002-2003 went from 1.00 to 1.35 (95% confidence interval: 1.06-1.71). Because the confidence interval starts higher than the 1.00 of 1998, the increase is statistically significant (p

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