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Friday 20th April 2018

New AIDS narrative needed

13th November 2006

29052006_AfricaMap1Q.jpg"President Thabo Mbeki’s greatest error since his catastrophic foray into AIDS denialism in the late 1990s has been to silence any real national introspection and conversation about what AIDS says about this society or what we might learn from it in order to improve as a nation."

"We have been so busy fighting each other that we’ve stopped fighting the real enemy: the HIV virus. Let us return to that agenda," writes Pieter Fourie, in South Africa's Mail & Guardian.

The public policy agenda needs advancing from out of the artifically created debate between those who emphasise prevention and those who favour treatment, which are not mutually exclusive.

Disunity among government officials on major policy issues is hampering efforts to address the HIV/AIDS crisis, and distracting debate from issues of violence, inequality, and gender relations. Political correctness makes it hard to discuss culture, race and sex.

Supernatural morality has harmed secular efforts to deal with the epidemic: for example, the 'genocidal' statement by the Catholic Church that condoms should not be made available. Negative speech targetted at gay men and sex workers is tolerated when it comes from religious groups.

A fearless dialogue is needed which draws on a new narrative around AIDS, instead of supernatural statements connected to religion and culture. These perpetuate the social discrimination and abuse that lie at the heart of the epidemic.

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