Nicoli Nattrass at the Harvard Symposium on AIDS Denial

ASRU director, Prof Nicoli Nattrass, this week presented preliminary research on denialist beliefs among young South Africans at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her analysis is based on the Cape Area Panel Study which is a major survey conducted by the Centre for Social Science Research in partnership with Michigan State University. The results show a relationship between trust in former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and denialist beliefs among respondents. Prof Nattrass has previously published on former President Mbeki's AIDS denialism in her book Mortal Combat and has published estimates of the number of deaths caused by the failure to provide antiretroviral treatment.

Update: A video of the event can now be viewed here.

The Harvard Gazette reports:

Nicoli Nattrass, director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit and economics professor at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, presented preliminary results from a large-scale study of teenagers and young adults there. The results, which are still being analyzed, show that denialist beliefs are held disproportionately by black African men and are far more likely to be held by those supportive of Mbeki’s health minister, who has been replaced by the current administration.

Recent research showed how damaging denialist beliefs can be, concluding that Mbeki’s failure to roll out HIV drugs between 2000 and 2005 resulted in 330,000 unnecessary deaths and the infection of 3,500 infants with HIV.


Photo by Justin Ide, Harvard Staff Photographer.