I am re-reading a section in my textbook, "HIV/Aids Care and Counselling" by Alta van Dyk, on the symptoms of HIV infection in children. It ain't pretty. I will spare you most of the details but the author stated that it is estimated that 75% of HIV positive children will die before their fifth birthday if they do not receive antiretroviral therapy.
Now today our new president is being elected and it strikes me that, if there was a reason for Mr Mbeki to have been taken to task or "recalled" by the ANC, it should have been the government's inexplicable ostrich-like stand on HIV/Aids and ART. For years the government has dithered while infection rates soared, people died and children lost their parents to the disease. Why is he recalled now? And why, oh why, did Manto not resign? Does she truly believe she will be protected as much by the new president?
At any rate, I have decided that I will punch the next person who says that HIV infection is people's "own fault". Is it also the children's own fault for being born to HIV + mothers? What about rape victims, or people who have to work as sex workers in order to - oh the irony - survive? Or someone infected by an unfaithful partner or spouse? Is it their fault too? Even if someone gets infected with HIV because of irresponsible sexual behaviour, is a protracted death sentence really "what they deserve"? Who can make that judgement? I'd rather not, judge not lest thou be judged and all that.
On a more objective note, the economic impact of HIV/Aids is staggering and will get worse. When our economically productive people fall prey to HIV/Aids, who will produce and transport goods? Who will provide for and look after children and the elderly? Oh wait, we already know this. They will be forced to look after themselves, with little or no government assistance.
I'd like to tie Dr Beetroot to a chair and play her a recording of the entire contents of the textbook, on repeat, ad infinitum.