This is so awful. South Africa has a population of about 50 million. Nearly 6 million of them have HIV. And a new study expects another 5 million contract it in the next two decades. From the story:
South Africa, already home to 5.7 million H.I.V.-positive people, more than any other nation, can expect an additional five million to become infected during the next two decades even if the nation more than doubles its already considerable financing for treatment and prevention and gives prevention a higher priority, according to a report presented here Friday to the country’s leading advisory body on AIDS policy.
The study says that more than $100 billion will be needed to provide treatment and preventatives. The country has finally gotten past the bad old days of its leader denying HIV causes AIDS and is now trying to reduce transmission:
In the past year, the government has widely increased treatment with antiretroviral drugs and begun a campaign for counseling and testing. The report said it needed to go much further, emphasizing male circumcision, which has been shown to decrease by more than 50 percent the rate of contracting H.I.V., and the promotion of condom use.
These are holding tactics. The only real way to stop the epidemic is to convince people to act responsibly. Uganda dramatically reduced its HIV rates with a strong public anti promiscuity campaign, urging people to the ABC method—abstinence, be faithful, and condoms if they can’t abide by A and B. But for some reason, that which works best, isn’t politically correct. There are a lot of people who resist the formula.
Making it even more urgent that people change their behavior, the kind of money needed to keep matters at the current awful level may be unsustainable in a world of so much need. And what if the drugs stop working? Moreover, thieves are now stealing the drugs from the sick to mix with marijuana as a new way to get high. Good grief!
It seems to me the best hope for S. Africa is radical behavioral modification by its citizens, both as a matter of human duty and patriotic sacrifice. It worked well in Uganda. Why not try it in a sustained S. African campaign?