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NEWS: South Africa's Military Battles HIV

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posted on Jun, 7 2005 @ 07:16 PM
In a nation of 44 million, 5 million of whom have HIV (11% of the total population), South Africa's military has an HIV infection prevalence of 23%. Besides this alarming fact, South Africa's 5 million cases make it the world's largest caseload. A program, partly paid for by the US Department of Defense, is currently assessing the impact of HIV on South Africa's military readiness.
South Africa's armed forces are battling HIV/AIDS, which affects almost a quarter of troops, with resources under strain as soldiers and officers fall to the epidemic, military officials said on Tuesday.

"At this stage we do rise to the occasion as an organization, but we are starting to get stretched," said Brig. Gen. Pieter Oelofse, director of medicine for the South African Military Health Service.

"We are a mirror image of the population at large. We've got a challenge," Oelofse said on the sidelines of a major AIDS conference which opened in Durban on Tuesday.

Military officials estimate about 23 percent of the country's troops have HIV or AIDS, Oelofse said. An estimated 5 million South Africans of a population of 44 million are infected with the deadly virus -- the world's highest single caseload.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

It is bad enough that South Africa's population contains 5 million cases of HIV, but that their military has such a large number of infected members is, in my opinion, catastrophic. Remember that in combat, a substantial amount of blood for transfusions come from service members. When that population has an infection rate twice as high as the general population, that's a big problem. It seems that officials are trying to paint a happy face on this problem, but in the long haul, the consequences of this is likely to be devastating.

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[edit on 05/6/7 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 04:09 PM
The US alone has spent billions over the last decade or so on educations, innoculations, assistance to medical programs, stuff like that. I don't know how many more billions the rest of the world has sent.

Yet still, the problem increases, the requests for money increases, the donations increase, and on goes the cycle.

Obviously, we're attacking this the wrong way. We need a better solution, a better plan. I wonder if we're actually doing more harm than good, by giving all this money and aid, and inspiring a false hope that there doesn't need to be a cultural shift to stop this plague.

This, I think, is the problem. There is a "culture" of AIDS. in America, there are ignoramuses who think they can avoid it, or believe there is very little danger-they liken it to lightning strikes (I know people who think this way). And AIDS cases are starting to rise in California again. Is there a similar cavalier attitude in Africa?

Life is required to adapt and change, or die out. If a culture has some sort of flaw that allows or promotes a deadly disease or habit, the culture needs to adapt or dies out. No amount of money or education can solve the problem if the affected do not see it as a problem.

posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 05:58 PM
Despite most people believing that GW and I are in lockstep politically, there are a number of issues where we part company. One of those is spending money on the AIDS problem in Africa. If people would curtail their sexual activity and if normal quarantine procedures were followed, HIV would be extinct in a generation.

[edit on 05/6/8 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 08:43 PM
Exactly. Throwing money at it isn't enough. Money is worthless when not used properly. I think they need to do something about the countless rape incidents, quarantine the infected and if nessesary make people scared of HIV. Still it's pretty miserable that their military has a 23% infection rate. So much for being trained against biological agents.

posted on Jun, 9 2005 @ 09:35 AM
(For those of you who didn't notice yet - I'm from South Africa...)

First there is very little money going towards fighting HIV/AIDS in this country. The whole HIV/AIDS theme is politically filthy. Want to hear something scary? Our President (Thabo MBeki) is in denial over the AIDS problem. He publicly stated that it isn't really a problem, and to prove his point he said that he doesn't even know anyone with HIV/AIDS. Yes. This is the truth. Our minister of health prescribed the following food as ways to "fight HIV infection": Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and porridge... And such. Ridiculous!

A huge problem is the culture especially in the urban areas. In many cultures they have uneducated believes such as if you sleep with a virgin you'll be cured from AIDS!? Many men won't use a condom because "it doesn't feel the same"... And it's not unheard of for men to have a wife and 2 or 3 girlfriends. And it's not unheard of for a "girlfriend" to have many "boyfriends". Yes, it does sound primitive - but that's part of their culture and their denial that AIDS exists.

There's more money going into the care for HIV infected people, than there is going into the prevention.

The only solution will be a political effort to do something, and quit living in denial, and to change the culture of "I won't get HIV/AIDS"...

They (politicians) are most probably in denial over this, because they don't know how to solve the problem. And giving them more and more money is not solving the problem. Not here. Not anywhere.

posted on Jun, 9 2005 @ 05:24 PM
One of my professors does research in Africa, and was telling the class that one of the largest sources of HIV infection is the military -- including UN peacekeepers. Desperate women will employ themselves as prostitutes (for as little as $1.00 per trick) and end up becoming infected. The soldiers (their primary market for clients) hire the women and of course are too 'manly' to wear condoms during sex.

So the cycle grows... from soldier to hooker to soldier... and the children (there are so many) are caught in all this. Born infected (or, worse, raped under the assumption that this will cure a man of HIV), they are the most helpless victims.

I wish y'all could have heard the lecture.

posted on Jun, 9 2005 @ 08:07 PM
One might wonder what came first, the chicken or the egg, in this matter. However you stack it, "desparate women" and "manly" men are a dangerous combination. One wonders if the world would be better served with desparate men and manly women.

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