Aids in Africa—What Hope for the New Millennium?

BY AWAKE! CORRESPONDENT IN ZAMBIA

LAST September delegates from various parts of Africa gathered in Lusaka, Zambia, for the 11th International Conference on AIDS and STDs in Africa. One purpose of the conference was to encourage greater interregional cooperation in answering the question, How can we tackle the spread of AIDS in Africa?

Professor Nkandu Luo, then the Zambian minister of health, said that the situation in Africa and in other parts of the developing world is “extremely serious,” adding that it is “arresting and even reversing some of the significant gains made in health and in other social and economic spheres.”

A symposium on blood safety acknowledged that AIDS has been transmitted through transfusions. One doctor, a representative of the World Health Organization’s Blood Safety Unit, pointed out that while sexual intercourse with an infected partner does not always transmit HIV, the recipient of AIDS-contaminated blood will be infected—in every case! With good reason, this doctor stated that in such a case, “the safest blood transfusion is the one that is not given.”

The conference emphasized that the prohibitive cost of treatment makes it difficult if not impossible for those with AIDS to afford medical care. On the average, for example, a Ugandan in an urban area earns about $200 a month. But treatment using antiretrovirals can cost up to $1,000 per month!

The Lusaka conference indicated that the start of the new millennium would see no easy solution to the spread of AIDS. Students of the Bible, however, realize that ultimately the solution for all sicknesses depends upon the Creator, Jehovah God, who promises that in his new world, “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’”—Isaiah 33:24.

[Map/Pictures on page 31]

Professor Nkandu Luo

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Photograph by permission of E. Mwanaleza, Times of Zambia