Africa is the canary in the coal mine, folks. AIDS is an epidemic on that continent, and this Western perception of “it can’t happy here” is bullshit. AIDS was born there (arguably), it spread around the world, and it’s growing faster in Africa than any other place.
But it will continue its spread. Things will get worse. COUNT ON IT. The only weapon we have against AIDS is education, but we all know that ignorance is as epidemic as the virus.
More than 6,000 people die of AIDS each day on that continent, where 25 million people presently suffer from its wrath. In two years alone, the portion of adults in South Africa with AIDS jumped from 13% to 20%, from 1997 to 1999. There is no country in the world facing a greater threat from AIDS than South Africa, and ignorance of the problem has not disappeared.
In this BBC story from today, we see how a political power-broker in South Africa is accused of raping a woman known to have HIV, in which he did not use a condom. He instead showered after the encounter, believing that would negate the virus’s ability to infect him.
This is an “educated” and “successful” man, and he believes this shit. This is a continent in which education is nowhere near where it needs to be, where superstition and age-old cultural beliefs trump modern knowledge. A place where the Catholic Church (fuck them and the horse they’ve ridden in on) is still militantly campaigning to not have condoms distributed freely in an attempt to stave off the spread of AIDS & HIV, which some experts say might well have spread to a quarter of the continent’s population by 2020.
We in the West are far too ignorant of Africa’s problems. We like to think this disease’s problems will stay confined to the jungles and savannahs of the Dark Continent. But they won’t. In this day and age of world-wide air travel and international immigration, this disease is coming to a body near you, if it hasn’t already.
Educate yourself. Have protected sex every time. The few people I know with AIDS or HIV can tell me almost with certainty which encounter they believe caused it — calculated risk? Not so calculated, it would seem.
Test yourself and your partner, and demand to see the evidence, before engaging in “bareback” sex. I’ve never been promiscuous mainly because AIDS and HIV scare the living shit out of me. And rightfully so. The Dark Continent tells of a dark future for us all, if vigilance and education aren’t increased.
America is taking ignorance to new levels — allowing for states to have “opt-in” sexual education, like in Kansas, where if a student has not received a signed permission slip from a parent, they will not be taught sexual education. Ironic, isn’t it, when it’s the students whose parents won’t consent to such education who are most in need of it?
It’s time we put our so-called quest for morality away, and focus instead on educating ourselves about the possible transmission of this disease. Just the other day, some fuckhead politician in the States was talking about the transmission of the virus through tears. (Not likely to happen, Bubba.)
The topic of AIDS and HIV are ones I’m very passionate about. The ignorance of Africa as a problem on more levels than one is another I’m passionate about (one word: Darfur). But they depress me and I avoid writing about it, because I want to do it well, and to do it well means finding the facts and figures that can be used to shock awareness into people. I will, however, aspire to it over the coming weeks. It’s time people get their fucking heads out of their asses and learn about this. The spread of AIDS here in the West IS increasing as the spread of education has been reduced in the past half-decade or so. Teens are more ignorant than ever, and it’s the politicians’ faults. Women are contracting the disease faster than they ever have, and the dangers are not diminishing.
Use condoms. Always get tested. Be aware. Educate yourself. Never, ever touch blood without protection provided by latex gloves or what have you. Be vigilant. And stay uninfected.