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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Notes on HIV/AIDS in Africa

Allen Stratton writes:

In Monarch, a slum district on the outskirts of Francistown, I met an 18-year-old I'll call Sara. Sara had become pregnant, and infected, at 15; her son, age 2, was infected at birth. Aside from the woman who ran the AIDS awareness centre where she volunteered, I was the only one she trusted with her diagnosis; she was silenced by the same terror that affects so many worldwide – that if her status was disclosed, she and her son would be shunned and left to die alone. We sat with the center's director in Sara's one-room hut, the shutters closed, her son's crayon drawings nailed to the mud wall. “I am my parents' only child,” she said. “How do I tell them I will be dead soon? How do I tell them their only grandchild will be dead soon too?” The whites of her eyes were yellow, and her body skeletal, but she still chopped firewood, waited in line at the standpipe for water to bathe her babies. She didn't want to think about her son dying before her, but she was afraid of what would happen to him if she died first. That's why she'd volunteered at the centre: so that, just in case, there'd be people who'd know him and might look after him. There was a silence. Then she said: “If I can live four more years, he will be six. If he is six, maybe he will be old enough to survive without me.”

link: A novelist's notes on the sub-Saharan HIV/AIDS pandemic - The Globe and Mail


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