Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says although Mbeki misunderstood the link between a virus and a syndrome, other factors were involved.(SABC)
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has described the conversations about the letter that former President Thabo Mbeki recently published on HIV/AIDS during his presidency, as a big and depressing political debate.
Motsoaledi says due to the stigma that surrounded HIV/AIDS at the time, patients refused to disclose their status and this led to HIV not receiving the priority it deserved.
He says although Mbeki misunderstood the link between a virus and a syndrome, other factors were involved.
"There was a lot of stigma; insurance companies were literally refusing to pay for somebody who died of HIV/AIDS. So communities were pleading to doctors not to write HIV diagnosis. Now doctors did not, I don't know whether ethically or morally that's correct but they were trying to defend the patient. Unfortunately, Stats South Africa took it and they said HIV is the number nine killer when it was actually number one, so these things do change the way things are perceived and the laws of the country and policies," says Motsoaledi.
Read the letter here: