NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ Examines AIDS Epidemic in Botswana
The average life expectancy in Botswana is expected to drop to "as low as" age 29 by the year 2012 "unless something radical is done" to change the rates of new HIV infection, Dr. Max Essex, chair of the Harvard AIDS Institute and John LaPorte Given Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health, said yesterday in an interview on NPR's "All Things Considered." Essex spent last year on sabbatical in Gaborone, Botswana, where he worked with the country's Ministry of Health to open an AIDS lab (Neary, "All Things Considered," NPR, 7/9). The Botswana Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory at Princess Marina Hospital, funded by the Botswanan government, the Harvard institute, Bristol-Myers Squibb and other private foundations, tests blood samples, analyzes data for HIV vaccine trials and studies drug resistance (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/1). Essex said he "doubt[s]" that Botswana's life expectancy will drop "as low as those most dire predictions" because the country's government is "very responsible" and has already initiated antiretroviral drug therapy programs. However, Essex said that there is "probably no doubt that a very significant fraction of young adults will be lost," citing high infection rates among people between the ages of 25 and 35, "the age at which people are highly skilled and ready to contribute significantly to the economy."
The full segment is available in RealPlayer Audio online (Neary, "All Things Considered," NPR, 7/9).