Le tragique bilan du refus de la science

PRINCETON – Tout au long de sa présidence, le président sud-africain Thabo Mbeki a contesté l'avis général des scientifiques selon lequel le sida est dû à un virus, le VIH, et des médicaments antirétroviraux peuvent sauver la vie des personnes qui en sont porteurs. Il s'est rangé du coté d'une minorité de scientifiques dissidents qui estimaient que le sida a d'autres causes.

Il s'est entêté, même lorsque les preuves qui allaient à l'encontre de ses idées se sont accumulées. Quand quiconque (y compris Nelson Mandela, le combattant héroïque qui est devenu le premier président noir d'Afrique du Sud) critiquait sa position, ses partisans réagissaient par le dénigrement.

Alors qu'au Botswana et en Namibie, des pays voisins de l'Afrique du Sud, la majorité des personnes touchées par le VIH recevaient des médicaments antirétroviraux, ce n'était pas le cas en Afrique du Sud sous Mbeki.  Une équipe de chercheurs de l'université de Harvard vient de terminer une étude sur les conséquences de cette politique. En se basant sur des hypothèses à minima, elle conclue que 365000 décès prématurés auraient pu être évités si le gouvernement sud-africain avait distribué les médicaments voulus aux malades du sida et aux femmes enceintes susceptibles d'infecter leur enfant.

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