The number of people infected with AIDS in South Africa exceeds the population of Denmark, and people are dying at rates that are hard to wrap your head around:
The country has the world’s most severe HIV problem, with some 5.6 million citizens – more than 10% of the population – currently living with the virus. Every year, around 300,000 new infections, and 270,000 AIDS-related deaths, are recorded. HIV/AIDS patients are also prone to other infections: an estimated 70% of South Africans with AIDS also contract tuberculosis, while half of those carrying the HIV virus are expected to do so during their lifetime. Worse, a third of pregnant women – a highly AIDS-prone demographic – have been diagnosed with the virus, which can be passed on to their babies during childbirth.
To give you some perspective, this means South Africans are dying of AIDS at the same rate that Americans died during the worst years of the Civil War. Thabo Mbeki bears direct responsibility for much of this holocaust; his policies of evasion and denial gave the virus time to establish itself widely in the population.This is something all of us ought to remember: good policy matters and bad policy can kill at the same level as war.