South Africa: South African-based health workers and researchers are struggling to educate the public about safe sex, but it's a tough battle when they are have to combat some of the insane myths about the disease.
...condoms have been deliberately infected with the virus by foreign governments or aid organisations or even African governments intent on killing their own people...
...AIDS is caused by witchcraft and HIV is transmitted by touch, both of which fuel the stigma and ignorance surrounding the disease...
...AIDS can be cured or that it always happens to someone else...
A survey of 260 African truck drivers showed that over a third of respondents believed that sleeping with a virgin could cure the disease, putting girls and young women at great risk.
It certainly hasn't help that the fundie groups are spreading lies that condoms won't prevent the transmission of HIV and cause AIDS. Or that a few years back Al Gore fronted up for the drug corporations to discourage the South African government from buying cheaper anti-aids drugs from Argentina and to support the current government stance of
HIV is not related to AIDS.
Fortunately the Treatment Action Campaign has led a successful public and legal campaign to force the Pretoria government to allow key AIDS medicines in the public health system. From this year, life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs will be made available to some of South Africa's estimated five million people who are living with HIV.
But the desperation of people with the disease with no immediate hope of drugs or proper treatment has led to endless potions and fake remedies being marketed up and down the country. The least harmful of these turn out to be little more than vitamin supplements or weight-gain products. The worst are dangerous concoctions of poisons.
One of the groups leading the way in dispelling the myths and educating young people about the disease and sexual health matters is the Love Life group.
Myths Blunt Africa's Fight Against AIDS - Reuters Foundation Alertnet, 2nd December 2003.