Deny, Deny, Deny
As with the global warming 'skeptics,' those in the 'AIDS dissident movement' see themselves as honest intellectuals who have been unfairly branded as heretics by the scientific 'establishment.' Like their counterparts on the climate question, they are a tiny but vocal minority who insist that consensus is not truth and that their opponents have merely followed the funding -- in this case from the all-powerful drug companies -- in arriving at their positions. The parallels go on. The deniers (loaded term, I know, but there it is), say that even if HIV does cause AIDS, the treatment is worse than the disease. Likewise, many warming skeptics argue that cutting CO2 emissions will wreak worse havoc than warming itself.
In South Africa, AIDS denialism has enjoyed official government support just as global warming denialism has in our own country. The South African position is explained in large part by a nativist philosophy combined with a deep-seated distrust of Western science. The Bush Administration's climate position shares this profound disdain for science, at least, and perhaps also a faith in what it deems to be traditional values. In South Africa, meanwhile, people are dying of AIDS at the appalling rate of 900-1,000/day.
In the United States, no one is yet dying from government inaction or intransigence, but the human costs of our official denial could quickly surpass anything associated with HIV. Given our history and position in the world, that is more than just appalling. It's criminal.