Socialist Worker

The crisis nobody wants to talk about

Issue No. 1921

FIGURES WERE released last week detailing coming mass slaughter and social destruction in South Africa.

Quite rightly we have heard much about the suffering in Sudan, where perhaps 50,000 people have died and many more could die in the future.

There was almost no publicity for figures which show that now 5.6 million of South Africa’s 40 million population are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

This is a rise of 300,000 in a year. AIDS-related illnesses could kill more than five million South Africans by 2011.

The press and politicians do not focus on these figures because the death toll is so directly related to Western policy. For all the fine words about making AIDS drugs cheaper, just one in 14 HIV-positive people in Third World countries have access to lifesaving drugs.

Countries like Britain and the US are not even giving the paltry sums requested by the United Nations to confront the emergency. The UNAIDS agency says $12 billion a year is needed to combat the disease. Last year it received $5 billion.

The South African government has also failed its people. President Mbeki has denied the threat from AIDS, and it took intense pressure to get any drug programmes from the government.

In response to the latest figures, deputy president Jacob Zuma said the way forward was to put pressure on women to remain virgins and to encourage virginity testing.

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Sat 2 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1921
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