Southern African HIV Prevention Efforts Must Come From People Who Understand Local Beliefs, Opinion Piece Says
Although there is an "impress[ive]" amount of HIV/AIDS-related "medical expertise" in Southern Africa, the region lacks the moral, sociological, psychological and cultural expertise to curb the spread of the disease, New York Times columnist David Brooks writes in a Times opinion piece. The provision of HIV/AIDS treatment and education, condoms and economic development programs are "necessary but insufficient" to fight the epidemic, Brooks, who recently spent a week traveling in Africa, says. "Prevention is about changing behavior," Brooks writes, adding, "It is getting into the hearts of people in their vulnerable moments ... and influencing them to change the behavior that they have not so far changed under the threat of death." Governments and nongovernmental organizations rarely can address issues of evil, fear, weakness, traditions, temptation and lack of "sanctity of life" that contribute to the spread of HIV in Southern Africa, Brooks says. These issues "can be addressed only by the language of ought, by fixing behavior into some relevant set of transcendent ideals and faiths," Brooks writes, adding, "It has to be spoken, in Africa, by people who understand local beliefs about ancestors and the supernatural" (Brooks, New York Times, 6/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.