Everything the Beast touches turns to dust. It feeds on the lives of men. Bringer of sorrow and desolation among communities, it destroys social nets and cultural structures, annihilate human capital. A veritable monster is in our midst, a monster whose ugliness one cannot describe and whose destructiveness the most evil among us would not wish upon others. Far from being an “aid” as its name sugg

By Gus Bode

Although HIV/AIDS is a global scourge, Africa hosts roughly 28 million of the 40 million HIV infected in the entire world. Approximately 9 percent of all sub-Saharan inhabitants between the ages of 15 and 49 were HIV carriers. In some areas, the numbers are even more alarming. In certain southern African countries, like Mozambique, UNAIDS reported that 30-40 percent of the adult populations were infected. As a result, the average lifespan is as low as 40 years old in certain regions, the mortality rate as greatly increased. UNAIDS suggested that the disease accounts for every fifth death and that in the year 2001 alone 2 million people died from AIDS. HIV/AIDS accounts for 5,500 deaths every day in sub-Saharan Africa.

This condition has now reached genocidal proportions of an historic character. The repercussions on society and development are enormous. The most important are the lack of human capital to produce goods and generate economic activity and social disintegration. Societies and communities are also negatively influenced. The death of loved ones such as parents, has left many children abandoned or under the care of other relatives. The traditional family relations and identifications are completely altered hence creating new social dynamics that often in these circumstances are harmful to the overall well being of the country. And if economic liberalism has taught us anything it is that the most important element of economic progress is not one country’s resources or geographical location rather it is its population. Africa is in serious trouble.

The limits of language very quickly become evident to one especially when one deals with issues of great humanitarian importance. Language alone cannot grasp the depth of great human suffering. Hence, it proves useful to make comparisons with one’s audience own experiences. Every American has experienced at least through the media the attacks of Sept. 11 2001. They prompted an international and domestic outrage that led to an “unlimited” war on terror. Roughly 2900 Americans lost their lives. Sub-Saharan Africa looses 5500 people every single day from HIV/AIDS. To establish a more explicit parallel between both circumstances -the attacks of Sept. 11 and the AIDS crisis in Africa- it would be just to say that “Sept 11th” in terms of casualties happens twice every single day in sub-Saharan Africa- given that we loose roughly twice the number of victims of Sept. 11. Those twin towers crash twice in Africa every day. The hot fires that burnt those buildings to their fall are equivalent to the emptiness in a mother’s womb weeping a child’s death. The apocalyptic roar of the crash is no different than the cries of countless families around their dear’s graves. It happened yesterday, it is happening today and it will happen tomorrow. Yet nothing of significant importance has been done domestically especially in the most affected regions to the exception of Uganda perhaps which ABC’s Prevention Program was recently praised by President Bush.


Ironically, serious western initiative to act against AIDS in Africa was the prerogative of Republican conservative President Bush with his 5 Year $15 billion package to slow AIDS and extend relief for millions of AIDS victims in Africa and the Caribbean. It is perhaps Nicolas Eberstadt warning that in the decades ahead the center of the global HIV AIDS pandemic will shift from Africa to Eurasia with a death toll that could be staggering and with devastating economic consequences for the global market that has awaken the western humanitarian fiber.

The lack of genuine attention from western powers, prior to the exception provided by the Bush Bill, is unacceptable and underscores either a collective death wish on the African people or uncovers the moral bankruptcy of liberal values that for long have claimed superiority over other value systems for having been the first to have conceptualized the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man.