HIV/AIDS ‘Destroying’ Bushmen Resettled From Kalahari Desert, Journalist Says in NPR Interview
"AIDS is destroying what was a very healthy and vibrant community" of bushmen who for 30,000 years lived on ancestral lands in the Kalahari Desert but in 2002 were relocated by the government of Botswana to resettlement camps, Tom Price, a freelance reporter who visited two of the three resettlement camps in the country and wrote about the bushmen of the Kalahari for Mother Jones magazine, said in an interview on NPR's "NPR News with Tony Cox" on Friday. According to NPR, the Botswanan government says it resettled the bushmen to improve their quality of life and expose them to modern culture, but that motive has been "called into question" as the bushmen die of AIDS-related causes. In addition, many observers have said that Botswana's "lucrative" diamond industry likely played a role in the forced resettlement, as prospectors discovered diamonds on the ancestral land shortly before moving the bushmen. According to Price, before the resettlement, the approximately 2,000 bushmen who lived deep inside the central Kalahari had "largely avoided" exposure to HIV because it took more than two days of driving through deep sand to enter or exit their territory. However, the alcoholism, rape and sexual abuse that occur "regularly" in the resettlement camps contribute to "startling" rates of HIV/AIDS among the bushmen, Price said, adding, "There is nothing to do, literally, but sit and drink and get AIDS and die." Price said there may not be an accurate estimate of HIV prevalence among the resettled bushmen "because the government doesn't want to do a survey and find out just how bad it's getting" (Devall, "NPR News with Tony Cox," NPR, 1/21). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. Price's article is available online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.