World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day. Although I left Botswana almost four weeks ago now, the country and the plight of it's people, are never far from my thoughts.

Botswana has one of the highest prevalence and incidence of HIV in the world. Statistically two of the people in the above photo (children and teenages) will be living with HIV. Everyone in the photo will have had family members affected by the disease. Most will have watched someone close to them die. In 1987 Botswana's life expectancy peaked at 63.5 years before dropping to 46.5 years in 2002 as HIV and AIDS swept through the population. Today, thanks to the government's national health program and freely available HIV medications, the average baby born in Botswana will live to 50.6 years.

There is still no cure for HIV or AIDS. The research world is decades away from a vaccination. The only cure is prevention. Male circumcision, condoms, antiretrovirals during childbirth and breast feeding, and perhaps antiretrovirals as primary prevention are the only tools that we have. We owe it to the children of Gaborone, Johannesburg, Tororo and Dar es Salaam to continue pressuring drug companies to make their drugs affordable, safe and available to everyone affected by HIV.
Anyway, in honour of World AIDS Day tonight I'm headed to an awareness dinner at La Cocotte, a great French restaurant over in Schoeneberg. What are you doing for World AIDS Day?

No comments: