New York Times Magazine Examines HIV/AIDS in South Africa, loveLife Prevention Campaign
The New York Times Magazine on Sunday in an article titled, "When a Pill is Not Enough," examined an HIV/AIDS epidemic that had reached "biblical proportion" in South Africa, and looks at current prevention efforts in the country, particularly those aimed at young people. Times Magazine editorial writer Tina Rosenberg reports that HIV/AIDS "exploded" in South Africa in the 1990s and that 18.8% of adults are HIV-positive -- a figure that is "still rising, though very slowly." According to Rosenberg, the post-apartheid government in South Africa, which was "besieged with problems" and "largely ignored" the HIV/AIDS epidemic, now is spending millions of dollars on treatment and prevention. Rosenberg writes that treatment can be a "hard sell" and that although traditional healers provide important "psychological comfort," they can sometimes be a barrier to effective care and treatment.
'Conundrum of Psychology and Culture'
Rosenberg calls HIV/AIDS prevention a "conundrum of psychology and culture" and looks at efforts to use nevirapine to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission and the potential for microbicides as a prevention method women can control. In addition, Rosenberg focuses on the development of loveLife, South Africa's national HIV prevention program for youth and one of the largest HIV/AIDS prevention programs in the world (Rosenberg, New York Times Magazine, 8/6). loveLife -- which began in 1999 and is organized under the auspices of the independent loveLife Trust governed by leading South Africans -- receives major funding from the South African government and the Kaiser Family Foundation (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/22/05). According to the article, loveLife has programs "in a third of the country's high schools, one-seventh of the nation's health clinics, 130 community organizations and 16 loveLife centers" and has hired youth as groundBREAKERs who are "taught how to motivate young people by sharing their own personal histories." Rosenberg writes that loveLife began by "promising too much" -- including a pledge to cut the rate of new HIV infections among youth in half in five years -- but the program now reaches 40% of South Africa's young people with its "face-to-face programs," and there are "strong indications that loveLife does indeed change young people's behavior." She adds that "more would be better" and that the "thinking behind loveLife -- get into their heads -- needs to become part of every AIDS program, in South Africa and around the world." Rosenberg concludes, "Without attention to the social, psychological and cultural factors surrounding the disease, we are throwing away money and lives. This is the new frontier. Twenty-five years into the epidemic, we now know how to keep people from dying of AIDS. The challenge for the future is to keep them from dying of stigma, denial and silence" (New York Times Magazine, 8/6).