Sunday, December 14, 2008

African Practices


Charles L. Geshekter


...At the 10th International AIDS Conference in Yokohama (August 1994), Dr. Yuichi Shiokawa claimed that AIDS would be brought under control only if Africans restrained their sexual cravings. Professor Nathan Clumeck of the Universite Libre in Brussels was skeptical that Africans will ever do so. In an interview with Le Monde , Clumeck claimed that "sex, love, and disease do not mean the same thing to Africans as they do to West Europeans [because] the notion of guilt doesn't exist in the same way as it does in the Judeo Christian culture of the West...

The serious consequences of claiming that millions of Africans are threatened by infectious AIDS makes it politically acceptable to use the continent as a laboratory for vaccine trials and the distribution of toxic drugs of disputed effectiveness like ddI and AZT. On the other hand, campaigns that advocate monogamy or abstinence and ubiquitous media claims that "safe sex" is the only way to avoid AIDS inadvertently scare Africans from visiting a public health clinic for fear of receiving a "fatal" AIDS diagnosis. Even Africans "with treatable medical conditions (such as tuberculosis) who perceive themselves as having HIV infection fail to seek medical attention because they think that they have an untreatable disease."(20)

Primary health care systems in Africa will remain hampered until public health planners systematically gather statistics on morbidity and mortality to accurately show what causes sickness and death in specific African countries. During the past ten years, as the external financing of HIV-based AIDS programs in Africa dramatically increased, money for studying other health problems remained static, even though deaths from malaria, tuberculosis, neo-natal tetanus, respiratory diseases, and diarrhea grew at alarming rates.(30)

While Western health leaders fixate on HIV, 52% of sub-Saharan Africans lack access to safe water, 62% lack proper sanitation, and an estimated 50 million pre-school children suffer from protein-calorie malnutrition.(31)...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Political Economy of AIDS

The Political Economy of AIDS
Brian K. Murphy


..."Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), one of the supposedly rare diseases that most
definitively marked the onset of AIDS in North America, is neither new nor so very rare.
Identified in 1911, vulnerability to PCP is related to, among other things, prolonged
Vitamin A deficiency in drug addicts and alcoholics, and has been commonly diagnosed
among the malnourished in the Global South, particularly among young children in
Africa and Asia suffering from Kwashiorkor. (Root-Bernstein pointedly asks, “Why do
we call a patient who dies of Pneumocystis pneumonia [independent of HIV] unfortunate,
but one who dies of Pneumocystis pneumonia and HIV an AIDS tragedy?”)..."