World Aids Day

by Ingrid Robeyns on December 1, 2006

Today is “World Aids Day”:, and “UN AIDS”: “reports”: that another 14.000 children, women and men will become infected with HIV today. This year is 25 years ago that the first case was reported. In those 25 years, there has been a gigantic difference in the impact of HIV/AIDS on the affluent societies versus the poor societies, especially in sub-Saharan African. The life expectancy in some African countries such as Botswana and Swaziland is now well below 35 years. And even these statistics do not reveal the grim reality of children who are growing up without adults, in what social scientists now call ‘childheaded households’. How can a 12 year old girl feed her younger siblings? If there are no neighbours or organisations supporting them, it is likely that her only short-term survival option is prostitution. Long-term survival is something these children simply cannot contemplate.

The theme of this World Aids Day is accountability – not only of individuals who are having unsafe sex (especially those who are infecting others through unwanted sex), but also of religious leaders “discouraging the use and promotion of condoms”:, political leaders of rich societies “who don’t give enough money”: to fight the epidemic, and political leaders in severely HIV/AIDS-affected countries, such as “Doctor Beetroot”:, who are misinforming the population. But World Aids Day is also the day when we should thank the many men and women who are fighting this ugly disease, from grassroots awareness activities up to diplomatic action at the highest level, often in difficult circumstances.



John Quiggin 12.01.06 at 7:05 am

Some good news from South Africa, though it’s hard to say whether there’s been a permanent shift.


Jacob Christensen 12.01.06 at 11:38 am

In this part of the world (Sweden) another STD is in the headlines: Chlamydia

Dagens Nyheter: Klamydia fortsätter att öka stadigt (In Swedish)

HIV/AIDS seems to be so 80s (unfortunately) but condoms would be useful here as well.


le renard 12.01.06 at 3:05 pm

The theme of accountability this year brings up an intersting thought that many people infected with HIV/AIDS simply don’t care if they spread the disease. Poverty is so devastating in southern Africa (where infection rates are the highest) that there is no hope for many of rising above.

Most men in this area work in mines for the majority of the year, with prostitutes as their only sexual outlet. Whether they are infected with HIV/AIDS when they return home and have sex with their wives is unimportant to them.

In a society where your social status and stability are based on the number of children you have, many women do not have the option of demanding safe sex. In an environment where poverty rules your life, demanding that a man use a condom may result in him seeking out another prostitute. In a world where the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS infection is so negative, many people would rather not get tested. Women who know that breast feeding will most likely pass on the infection to their child would rather take the risk than feed a suspicion that she has AIDS.

Accountability is a pleasing theme, but who shall be held accountable?


Fitz 12.02.06 at 1:41 pm […]

“Despite critics’ accusations that Catholic moral teaching is the cause of Africa’s woes, the facts demonstrate the contrary. The World Health Organization puts the figure for HIV infection in Swaziland at 42.6 percent of the population, where only 5 percent of the population is Catholic. Similarly, in Botswana, where 37 percent of the adult population is HIV infected, only 4 percent of the population is Catholic. Compare this to Uganda, where 43 percent of the population is Catholic, and the number of HIV-infected adults has dropped to only 4 percent.”


Ingrid Robeyns 12.03.06 at 8:32 am

Fitz, I’m sorry but the quote you present is unconvincing – even if the facts you present us are the correct ones, there may be all sorts of other explanations why the infection rates are as they are, apart from the percentage of Catholics in a country. It may be spurious correlations, or correlations with a third underlying factor.

Moreover, the story in the fourth link you sent us reported also this: “_I heard Catholic Church officials in Africa advocate abstinence and prohibit the use of all contraceptives, even if one partner in a marriage is HIV positive._”

If you don’t find this morally problematic, then I fear there’s little common ground for discussion between us.


Fitz 12.03.06 at 2:04 pm


“If you don’t find this morally problematic, then I fear there’s little common ground for discussion between us.”

I find it very “morally problematic” to say the least. I’m not sure your aware of the Church’s position or the context in wich they speak (few are).

My point was that the Church being a force for evil in the world of AIDs is a Meme of the highest Left order. It directly cares for most of the worlds aids patients.Its policies reduce aids, and no one has “prooven” that its policies advance AIDS.

I’m sure there is plently of room for common ground – after all, we are both human beings capable of reason.


Dennis H. Clarke 12.03.06 at 3:46 pm

I desperately applaud the people who continue to work on the front lines of the AIDS pandemic to save lives. I fear no one hears the applause. I send assistance and wonder if it arrives.

I remember well, what it was like in the early years, before AIDS had a name. By 1982, seven men my wife and I knew, all coworkers of hers and friends, all working for a single airline at one large airline base, had already died or were dieing of it.

Those were frightening times. No one seemed to know what was killing them or how it was being transmitted.

For most of the population of Earth, decades later, it is still mostly that way.

I also remember well that as the medical communities, led by the U.S. CDC got their wits about them that there were those among them and us who saw AIDS as a solution, rather than a problem.

Too many still do, thinking their enemy alien thoughts, all cursing mankind.

The bottom line continues to be that the will to do something about AIDS and to act on the same priority basis as we would act if one of our bio-warfare versions of smallpox were to get loose, is not and never has been there.

Aids is still about the personas of the victims, too many of them still seen as useless bread gobblers, lives devoid of value, too poor, under educated, non believers and beyond the reach of those who would help them if they thought they knew how.

It bothers me severely that I live in a country where we allow our politicians to stampede us to war against our neighbors but won’t lead us with the same vigor to find a way to help the most desperate of the peoples of Earth and out create disease, poverty and lack of education. They are a creation of our own moral malaise.

On this AIDS Day, I am reminded of the Beatitudes as my late father would read them to us, his children, each night. He read from the Gospel of Saint Mathew, from the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)

Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land. (Verse 4)

Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)

Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Verse 8)

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)

Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10)

As a child, knowing no better, I thought this was what adult life was about and that these were the blessings we should wish as good citizens for all of mankind surrounding us. As a child, I thought this was how all adults thought and that I was just learning the rules.

As a child, I had not yet learned that there was a difference between religious philosophy and religious practice and so we could war over practice and ignore our shared philosophies.

How very childish of me.

As an adult, for the lonely moments, I now carry one of Cicero’s prayers: “Where there is life there is hope.”

And from my friend, L. Ron Hubbard, I have received and carry the ulitimate wisdom of heart and soul and know, “Something can be done about it.”

So I contribute what I can and carry on.

And for those who are still trying, I continue the applause.

Dennis H. Clarke

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