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When a Pill Is Not Enough (AIDS in South Africa)

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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 10:21 AM
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When a Pill Is Not Enough (AIDS in South Africa)
In the whole AIDS epidemic, no question is more heartbreaking and confounding than this: Why would a mother choose to condemn her baby to death?

Mothers with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, pass it along to their newborns at birth 25 to 30 percent of the time, and in poor countries, some half a million babies a year are born with H.I.V. But the rate of transmission can be cut to 14 percent with a simple and cheap program: H.I.V.-positive mothers take a single pill of an antiretroviral called nevirapine when they begin labor, and their newborns are given nevirapine drops.

At the Alexandra Health Center and University Clinic in South Africa, pregnant women can get nevirapine free. The antenatal clinic is a complex of low brick buildings on a pretty hospital campus in the middle of the township of Alexandra, a bleak neighborhood on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The clinic has a doctor only on Thursdays, but an advanced midwife and two nurses attend a crowd of patients every day. I had been in South Africa for four days when I visited the clinic, and I had already seen the stigma that AIDS still carries in the country those dozens of funerals every Saturday in the townships? Oh, say family members, it was asthma, or tuberculosis, or a long illness. I thought I understood how powerful denial could be. But I was unprepared for what Pauline Molotsi, a registered nurse at the clinic, told me.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/06/magazine/06aids.html
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ananda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 10:31 AM
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1. This is so sad.
AIDS is such a stigma that women won't accept or use the treatment. It's certain death for the woman, and a good chance of death for the baby... but the fear of stigma in a society that condones male violence against and rape of women provides a great obstacle to treatment.

Sue
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 10:46 AM
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2. It all comes down to patriarchy, doesn't it?
Women are devalued, marginalized, and blamed for sex. Some cultures criminalize everything but strictly prescribed marital sex. Any illness that is transmitted by sex becomes not only a source of deep shame, but a threat to life and limb beyond that of the disease, itself, because men and their institutions will punish that woman for reminding them that they, too, are animal and vulnerable to disease.

If the human race wants to survive HIV, it will have to stop relegating half its members to the status of natural slave, of property, of "other."

Were I a woman in those conditions, I might deny, too. Better the child not survive me, because I know I will die before it is out of childhood and its father will not care for it.

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HockeyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Condoms will serve two purposes
Stop the spread of Aids and prevent the conception of another child with Aids.

However, since the rigid "religious" philosophy of this administration is that sex must equal procreation, more will die because of it.
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. A big part of the article
is about children born HIV- whose mothers are afraid to take antiviral drugs during labor for fear that they will be stigmatized for carrying HIV.
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