Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dear Anon

Dear Anon,

It is too bad you didn't place more information about yourself in the post. I would love to find out where you live, what you do and what makes you tick.

I don't have a problem defending my views. In fact, I want to thank you for calling me on not defending my statements in Tia's blog.

I will not debate theoretical jargon regarding the pharmaceutical companies. In my experience this does not assist the issue in anyway. Theory is not practicality.

I have lived in South Africa since 2004. I have seen things that most Americans only see on the television. I know more people who have died from AIDS related disease than people who have not. This is an excerpt from Avert - an international AIDS charity. On their page they say,

"It is difficult to overstate the suffering that HIV has caused in South Africa. With statistics showing that almost one in five adults are infected, HIV is widespread in a sense that can be difficult to imagine for those living in less-affected countries. For each person living with HIV, in South Africa and elsewhere, not only does it impact on their lives, but also those of their families, friends and wider communities.

With anti retroviral drug treatment, HIV-positive people can maintain their health and often lead relatively normal lives. Sadly, few people in South Africa have access to this treatment. This means that AIDS deaths are alarmingly common throughout the country. It is thought that almost half of all deaths in South Africa, and a staggering 71% of deaths among those aged between 15 and 49, are caused by AIDS. So many people are dying from AIDS that in some parts of the country, cemeteries are running out of space for the dead.A recent survey found that South Africans spent more time at funerals than they did having their hair cut, shopping or having barbecues. It also found that more than twice as many people had been to a funeral in the past month than had been to a wedding.

As well as the death and suffering that HIV has caused on an individual and community level, South Africa’s AIDS epidemic has also had a substantial impact on the country’s overall social and economic progress:

  • Average life expectancy in South Africa is now 54 years – without AIDS, it is estimated that it would be 64. Over half of 15 year olds are not expected to reach the age of 60.5
  • Between 1990 and 2003 – a period during which HIV prevalence in South Africa increased dramatically – the country fell by 35 places in the Human Development Index, a global directory that ranks countries by how developed they are.
  • Hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of HIV-related patients that they have to care for. In 2006 a leading researcher estimated that HIV-positive patients would soon account for 60-70% of medical expenditure in South African hospitals.
  • Schools have fewer teachers because of the AIDS epidemic. In 2006 it was estimated that 21% of teachers in South Africa were living with HIV."
South Africa is country with a strong economy, 'first-world' infrastructure and is only one of 61 territories in Africa. I know that this is not the only country in Africa struggling with this pandemic. I have been to rural villages in Mozambique and informal settlements in Swaziland. The impact of HIV/AIDS in these countries are heartbreaking to the same degree.

Yes, I realise that there are a plethora of reasons why the AIDS rate is so outrageously high. Poverty, Government inaction and ignorance/social stigma of AIDS victims all contribute to the frightening statistics. However, I cannot ignore that those with the power to help this situation do not assist with the power they are capable of. Those who help with all the fervour they contain just cannot do enough. If the pharmaceutical industry made less profit on AZT cocktails and other powerful industries also did their bit, Africa will not be in the same deadly situation. I realise they try, but their attempts are greatly undermined by their lust for profit and success.

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