Straight from the Norse’s mouth
9 September 1997 (MAHA)
OSLO, 9 September 1997 (MAHA)
Director General of Health Anne Alvik’s letter to UNAIDS, dated 8 January 1997, aims to correct "misleading information" that "Norwegian health authorities have purposely increased discrimination of Africans in the country."
Yet her letter, along with an October 1996 internal government report and information sent by the Norwegian Board of Health to Europe’s health ministries make for a stinging indictment of the Norwegian government’s obstinate denial of its responsibility.
The Norwegian Board of Health maintains that the daily Dagbladet’s headline ("Norwegian Board of Health Warns: Don’t Have Sex with Africans") was simply a "regrettable matter" which "complicated the case." The Board says nothing about its leak to the press which was the basis for the article.
Dagbladet claimed that "one in ten Africans in Norway is infected." It took a week for the Board to issue a press release titled "Clarification of HIV information" (11 July 1996), in which it "regretted" the spread of "erroneous information," proposing instead that "a correct estimate would be that about 2-2.5 per cent, or every 50th African in Norway from countries south of the Sahara, might be HIV infected." One in 10 or one in 50 , nothing justifies the Norwegian obsession with such statistics.
The Norwegian Press Council reprimanded Dagbladet and VG because they did not correct the numbers they used.
Norwegian newspapers also made public the identity of the two men held responsible for what the Board of Health calls "infection chains whereby two men had infected a total of six women." The Board denies that it leaked their identity to the press, but nevertheless apologized for having "described [them] in such detail that it was possible to identify them."
The Board denies any link between their statements and their deadly consequences for Norway’s African community. "We continue to be of the opinion that it was important to bring this information out into the open... We have no reason to apologize either for our initiative or the manner in which we handled the case."
The only official response to a boycott by African organizations has been to insist that "organisations... critical of our handling of the case may also apply for funds."
The Board now claims "the most important thing now is to build up trust between the health authorities and Africans in Norway", while denying its responsibility in disintegrating this trust.Yours in Struggle