Washington Post Examines How AIDS-Related Stigma in South Africa Affects Prevention Efforts, Access to Treatment
The Washington Post on Friday examined how AIDS-related stigma in South Africa is affecting prevention efforts and access to treatment following former South African President Nelson Mandela's "highly public attempt" to fight the stigma by announcing that his son had died of AIDS-related complications (Timberg, Washington Post, 1/14). Mandela last week announced that his son Makgatho Mandela, who was 54, had died in a Johannesburg hospital from AIDS-related pneumonia -- a revelation that ended weeks of speculation that Makgatho had AIDS. Mandela at a news conference said, "I announce that my son has died of AIDS," adding, "Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness, like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/12). Despite public education campaigns and advocacy to make HIV/AIDS "more visible and less shameful," stigma and misunderstanding persist, "hampering both testing and timely treatment," according to the Post. Most of the estimated five million HIV-positive people in the country have never been tested for the virus, and many people do not seek treatment at hospitals until the disease has advanced so far that antiretroviral drugs are mostly ineffective, according to the Post. In addition, many HIV-positive people who are aware of their status keep it secret, even from family members, because of persistent societal misconceptions about how HIV is spread (Washington Post, 1/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.