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AIDS in the RSA

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  • Bell, Elizabeth
    Fighting Apartheid and AIDS: One Down, One to Go New York Times (08.09.01) During South Africa s pre-1994 apartheid era, Pieter-Dirk Uys gained fame as his
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2001
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      "Fighting Apartheid and AIDS: One Down, One to Go"
      New York Times (08.09.01)
      During South Africa's pre-1994 apartheid era, Pieter-Dirk
      Uys gained fame as his nation's most prominent satirist: a gay
      Afrikaner who poked fun at his own white society. Now, however,
      the comedy of Uys (pronounced ace) is aimed not at racism but
      rather at AIDS. In the past, the issue was a white minority
      government's commitment to racial separation. Today it is what he
      depicts as a black majority government's failure to confront the
      Uys's show "Foreign AIDS," running through Friday in North
      London's Tricycle Theater, is his latest effort. It includes some
      characters from his old shows, like Afrikaner grande dame Evita
      Bezuidenhout, as well as new ones, like Dr. Thaboo MacBeki, an
      indecisive physician who does not want the facts to confuse him.
      Of course, AIDS is hardly a theme that lends itself to comedy.
      Adding to the risk, Uys's tirades against President Thabo Mbeki's
      well-documented refusal to lead the fight against AIDS could also
      land him in big political trouble back home.
      "Foreign AIDS" grew out of Uys's crusading tour of 160
      South African schools with a free performance called "For Fact's
      Sake." That show sought to spread the message that uninfected
      South African youths could avoid HIV by changing their sexual
      habits, and that infected people still had lives to live. An age
      gap, of course, separated Uys from his young audiences. "But as
      we talk, I can see the gap narrowing. I'm 56. They're 12 to 13.
      We all finish up about 23, united by the same fear," he said.
      How does he maintain hope, given the sheer scale of his nation's
      AIDS crisis? "The virus of apartheid was cured by democracy," he
      said, so why shouldn't it cure the plague of AIDS as well?

      "For HIV-Positive South Africans, A Chance to Work and to Live"
      Philadelphia Inquirer (08.09.01)::Andrew Maykuth
      In South Africa, nearly 30 percent of AngloGold's 50,000
      employees are believed to have the AIDS virus. The rate is even
      higher among those with TB. Doctors at company-owned Ernest
      Oppenheimer Hospital in the heart of the Free State mine region
      say it is difficult to persuade workers to submit to an HIV test.
      The disease is shrouded in confusion and myth, and few speak of
      it openly. "Some of the patients find it pointless," Ebrahim
      Variava, a physician at the hospital said. "What can we do for
      Soon AngloGold will begin to provide some of its ill workers
      with antiretrovirals, the expensive drugs that have
      revolutionized AIDS treatment in rich countries. Employers are
      struggling to save workers in a country where AIDS is so
      widespread that it is a labor nightmare as well as a medical
      tragedy. About 20 percent of South Africa's working-age
      population is HIV-positive. AIDS medicines are unaffordable for
      most of the 4.7 million infected South Africans. AngloGold's
      pilot project will help determine whether the company can
      administer the drugs on a broad scale to a workforce made up
      largely of migrant laborers. The company also hopes to learn how
      miners who blast rock two miles underground while hunched over in
      four-foot seams in 90-degree heat can bear up under the added
      stress of antiretroviral drugs.
      The voluntary counseling and testing program and the
      antiretroviral pilot project underpin the industry's position
      that AIDS is a "manageable" problem and not the financial
      catastrophe that some investors fear for South African business.
      "The principle benefit of voluntary testing is not to identify
      HIV-positive but to identify the negatives and keep them
      negative," said Gavin J. Churchyard, head of AngloGold's health
      research unit. And even at the deeply discounted rate of $2 a
      day, the drugs' cost remains a factor. "How much longer are
      people going to live?" asked Brian Brink, medical director of
      Anglo American, AngloGold's majority owner. "I can't find anyone
      who will give me an estimate. Let's say two, three years of extra
      life. You spend a hell of a lot of money to get that additional
      time, and you still have to treat it." The miners make about $10
      a day.
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