“Cause of Whitney’s death unknown” and “Lesego Motsepe tells dumbstruck TV host that she has stopped taking antiretrovirals”.
Two headlines this past week that are likely to rank among the most shocking when the industry pundits conduct their annual “best and worst of” round-ups as December approaches.
The former, because all those proclaiming to be shocked by Houston’s “sudden” death (no names mentioned, Reverend Jesse Jackson) have either been living under a rock, or dabbling in a spot of mind-altering practices of their own, since it was common know-ledge the songstress had been battling serious drug and alcohol addiction for the better part of a decade.
The latter because, in so doing, Motsepe has simultaneously seen fit to declare that in terms of HIV/Aids treatment, there are alternatives to ARVs and (as she told The Sunday Times) “the people living with the virus in their blood are best positioned to lead this conversation and tip the scale, rather than those making a living out of its existence”.
She has even gone so far as to lend credence to former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s claims (as preposterous now as they were then) that garlic and beetroot stunted, or altogether eliminated, the development of HIV into full-blown Aids!
All this based on the extensive knowledge and expertise on health that being a one-time soap actress has afforded Motsepe, of course.
Needless to say, her proclama-tions have stirred hot-blooded debate and outrage, particularly among those people in white coats with little things called medical doctorates, as well as years of research and experience to their names. And rightfully so.
Were it simply the case that Motsepe had chosen to quietly take this route and explore other avenues of treatment in her personal capacity, one could argue that, as the person faced with having to deal with the disease day in, day out – or indeed die from it – it was her prerogative to do so.
The playing field is somewhat altered, however, when you make such a stand after you willingly took on the role of a so-called celebrity ambassador for the HIV/Aids cause, who is tasked with educating the masses and spreading awareness about this killer.
But instead, you use this very public podium to promote your own skewed and wholly unfounded notions. Particularly when you’re living in a country with the highest rate of HIV infection in the world!
Yes, looking to uncover new or additional means and methods of combating this dreaded disease that has held so many in its grip for decades is certainly a cause worth investigating – which is, after all, what those same scientific and health professionals have been tackling.
But for Motsepe to suggest only those actually afflicted with the virus are really worthy of doing so is not only irresponsible, it’s downright daft. After all, having lived with HIV for 13 years obviously hasn’t made her an expert on it, any more than driving a car makes me a mechanic.
LARA DE MATOS