The first time the world came to South Africa for a conference on AIDS, the country's leader shocked attendees by questioning whether HIV really caused the disease.
President Thabo Mbeki then walked out of the room as a slender 11-year-old boy with AIDS addressed the crowd in response, pleading for treatment and understanding in a region where the epidemic was taking its harshest toll.
"Don't be afraid of us. We are all the same," Nkosi Johnson said. He died the next year.
South Africa's official attitude to AIDS at that meeting in 2000 and for several years afterward set back the country so badly that more than 330,000 people died because the government...