African Epidemics of Famine and HIV/AIDS Must Be Fought Together, New York Times Op-Ed Says
Africa's twin epidemics of HIV/AIDS and famine must be fought together because they are intertwined, Alex de Waal, director of Justice Africa and an adviser to the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, writes in a New York Times op-ed. HIV/AIDS is crippling African nations' ability to resist famine because the disease is killing young people who make up the majority of farmers and other laborers, de Waal says. Meanwhile, famine and malnutrition destroy health, making people more susceptible to disease, more likely to quickly progress from HIV to AIDS and less likely to respond well to existing treatments, de Waal states, adding that the epidemics have disrupted social structures and made it more difficult for affected populations to recover. He states that, for example, children who have lost one or more parents to HIV/AIDS are often cared for by grandparents or older siblings, who are often unable to effectively farm or pass on farming skills to others. De Waal concludes, "In short, HIV is imperiling the ability of African societies to reproduce themselves. ... Above all, we need to restore a sense of the future to a generation facing an appalling crisis, to help unlock their energies in search of solutions" (de Waal, New York Times, 11/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.