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October 2001


Concerns about the statistical technics and the media furor surrounding HIV in Africa can nolonger be ignored. The AUF is creating an independent review to look into allegations that the medical establishment, especially phramaceutical companies, medical NGOs, and the media are inflating AIDS statistics.

Among the concerns the AUF has are:

[1] CDC reports dating back to 1988 that show the ELISA screen test on which HIV risk categorisation is based commonly showed false positives for people with malaria or with immunity to malaria.

[2] Concerns raised by several notable physicians including Luc Montagna, showing that the high AIDS related death rate in Africa could not be attributed solely to HIV infection.

[3] Concerns that the medical establishment is divided over the science of HIV and AIDS.

[4] Concerns that other immune disorders caused by malnutrition, pollution and other disease agents may have been overlooked as an explanation for the prevalence of AIDS.

[5] Concerns about the origins of statistical reports, the conditions in testing and screening labs.

[6] Concerns that because of emphasis on funding for HIV to the exclusion of other diseases in Africa, labs and hospitals are under pressure to report all cases in their care as AIDS.

[7] Concerns about efficacy of pathology and the definitions of AIDS, the ability of doctors to identify and distinguish symptoms.

[8] Concerns about the relationship between infection rates and death rates.

The AUF action was prompted by an October 1, 2001 report in IRIN by the UN claiming that 80% of Rwandan women were HIV infected. The IRIN story was based on a joint conference report by ARCT-RUHUKA and the Rwandan Ministry of Health, and has been relayed by several major news agencies across the world and by many newspapers in Africa. Both the public and medical personnel continue to misrepresent the conference and the purported associated statistics about the prevalence of AIDS in Africa.

The text carried by IRIN and the newswires reads:
Some 80 percent of Rwandan women are infected with HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, the president of the Rwandan Association of Trauma Counselors, Beatrice Karengera, said on Friday. At the opening of a two-day Kigali conference on the effects of Trauma, she said most of these women were infected after being raped by Rwandan army troops during the 1994 genocide of one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu. "This has brought continuous agony to many families rendering them helpless," she said. An official of the Ministry of Health, Yvonne Kayitesi, said HIV had dented the country's labour force and increased the army of orphans surviving on the streets.

Following the above IRIN report, the AUF issued a press release questioning the validity of the statistics. The press release also explained that it was scientifically impossible for 80% of Rwanda's women to be HIV positive.

This AUF release prompted a retraction and corrections by relevant organizations showing that in fact the IRIN report was misleading. Morever, several AIDS establishments also reacted to the AUF report by providing other statistics aimed at limiting the damage done by over eager AIDS staticians who are damaging the credibility of the medical establishment.

Below is the text of one of the corrections to the misleading IRIN report that was desseminated to many media outlets:

Subject: Correction on reports made on AIDs statistics said to be reported by ARCT-RUHUKA President.
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 09:43:14 +0200

We would like to make corrections on the reports made in the New times of 1st -3rd 2001(pg.2) that 80% of women are rape cases and IRIN, a United Nations News Organisation that 80% of Rwandan women have HIV,or any other media which would have published the same report that the real correct statistics are as follows;
According to the ARCT-RUHUKA annual report for the year 2000.

* The total number of statistics was 2,216 Clients.
* 80% of them are female.
* 20% are male.
* 90%of the total clients are survivors of war and Genocide.

The most presented problems were:
Grief and Mourning - 60%
Rape - 9.8%
HIV/AIDs - 9.6%
Deppression - 4.6%
PTSD - 5%
Psychiatric disorder - 2.5%
Anxiety - 3.5%
Family problems - 2%
Others e.g -Drug abuse - 3%
- Alcoholism
We are therefore requesting you to make corrections on the reports made.

We would also like to remind you that statistics are from ARCT-RUHUKA members as an Organisation and not from the whole country.

We also agree with Dan Kashagama's article in the Monitor of Wed , Oct ,10th ,2001. There is no way that 80% of Rwandan women would have HIV !!!!!!!!!!

For any more information plse don't hastate to contact me .

Thanks ,

Abatoni Jane
National coordinator.

Susequent to this correction and other concurring responses, the General Secretary of the AUF, Dan Kashagama met and spoke with Stephen Lewis, the head of the UN' HIV program. Stephen Lewis appeared to be uninformed about even the most basic issues surrounding the collection of statistics, research and records. He was defensive about questionable appointments of personnel to oversee the UN HIV/AIDS program in Africa.

Lewis grasp of the AIDS problem was so tenuous that he did not even know and could not give a name for any test used to determine HIV infection in Africa. Lewis' humanitarian approach is based on conventional assumptions, but no hard research on the true extent of the AIDS problem.

The AUF then followed up with statements in the press recommending among other things, a refocusing of the UN program to include assuarances to Africans about the efficacy of the science behind the AIDS epidermic, as well as the improvement of the total social conditions with which AIDS patients live.

It is the opinion of the AUF General Secretary, that the media's willingness to believe and to print inflated statistics about African AIDS is the product of a state of panic that is excerbated by the demoralising statements by press agents of pharmaceutical industry, as well as by members of the medical establishment, and international NGOs in need of funding.     
See AUF Statement on AIDS in the AU