More In This Article
SENAGO, ITALY--Three centuries ago cardinals seeking refuge from a plague in nearby Milan stayed here at the Villa San Carlo Borromeo, a grand estate surveying the village from its highest hill. The villa and its inhabitants have fallen on harder times since. The cracked plaster and faded paint on its high walls are covered with modern art of dubious quality. Now it is the private museum of Armando Verdiglione, a once prominent psychoanalyst whose reputation was stained when he was convicted in 1986 of swindling wealthy patients. Today the villa is hosting refugees of a different sort: scientific dissidents flown in by Verdiglione from around the world to address an eclectic conference of 100-odd listeners.
At the other end of the dais from Verdiglione is Sam Mhlongo, a former guerrilla fighter and prison-mate of Nelson Mandela and now head of the department of family medicine and primary health care at the Medical University of Southern Africa near Pretoria. Mhlongo has urged President Thabo Mbeki to question the near universal belief that AIDS is epidemic in South Africa and that HIV is its cause.
This article was originally published with the title Dissident or Don Quixote?.