Wednesday, 1 December 2010
World AIDS Day
Today is World Aids Day. Like all such "days" the purpose is creating awareness about a specific social issue. Do you remember when people started to speak about AIDS in the 80s? I was still in elementary school when I first heard of the dreaded AIDS. Back then it was a "homosexual disease". I'm glad that we have passed such ignorance, but it is still far from appropriate to think the we (the world) have enlightened notions about AIDS.
In South Africa AIDS is still a rampant epidemic. For a long time I've heard that some African people believe that AIDS was invented by white people in an attempt to reduce their population. There are also superstitious beliefs that sex with a virgin will cure AIDS. While things have improved, South Africa has a history of presidents with questionable views regarding AIDS. There is the legacy of President Thabo Mbeki and of course the shocking example of the current president, Jacob Zuma, who took a shower after having unprotected sex with an HIV+ woman. Such examples nullifies years of sex and AIDS education. The real effects of this disease will be felt ten or twenty years from now when a great chunk of a whole generation in South Africa's will have died to AIDS-related deaths, leaving behind another generation of orphans.
In South Korea it is difficult to assess the affect of AIDS. As a far eastern country, saving face is an important part of the Korean culture, so statistics are often under reported. At least it is not considered a homosexual disease. It may, however, be considered a foreign English teachers' disease.