Jimmy Carter: I nearly punched out South African president over AIDS treatment failures
Former President Jimmy Carter said he nearly punched out South Africa’s president over his refusal to allow treatment of AIDS patients in his country.
“The first time I came here to Cape Town I almost got in a fight with the president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, because he was refusing to let AIDS be treated,” Carter told the Sunday Times.
He said then-health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was standing with Mbeki at the time.
“That’s the closest I’ve come to getting into a fist fight with a head of state,” Carter said.
Mbeki famously denied the link between HIV and AIDS.
In 1999, he that AZT, the most suitable anti-retroviral drug used at the time, was toxic and refused to make treatment available in spite of a United Nations offer of assistance.
Carter said he and Bill Gates Sr., the philanthropist and father of the Microsoft founder, were trying to convince Mbeki to provide anti-retroviral treatment to pregnant woman with AIDS, but he said the South African leader “was against that.”