South Africa’s Anglican archbishop has attacked the country’s president, Thabo Mbeki, for questioning the scientific premise that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) leads to AIDS.
Speaking in November at a conference in Johannesburg, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town said “nothing could be more cruel to those infected than to believe that HIV is not the cause of AIDS.”
The archbishop added that President Mbeki’s questioning of the link between HIV and AIDS amounted to “ignorance of the facts, and denial.” Archbishop Ndungane’s speech marked his latest and toughest attack on the South African government’s hesitant approach to tackling the AIDS pandemic.
An estimated one out of nine South Africans – about 4.7 million people – are living with HIV/AIDS.
In his speech, Archbishop Ndungane said AIDS is not a sin and apologized for the church’s often-judgmental approach to the illness.