HIV/AIDS is among us. It is real. It is spreading. We can only win against HIV/AIDS if we join hands to save our nation. For too long we have closed our eyes as a nation. For many years, we have allowed the virus to spread, and at a rate in our country which is the fastest in the world. Every single day a further 1500 people in South Africa get infected. Many more face the danger of being affected by HIV/AIDS. Because it is carried and communicated by other human beings, it is in our workplaces, in our classrooms and our lecture halls. HIV/AIDS walks with us. It travels with us wherever we go. It is there when we play sport. It's there when we sing and dance.
Many of us have grieved for orphans left with no one to tend for them. We have experienced AIDS in the groans of wasting lives. We have carried it in small and large coffins to many graveyards. At times, we did not know that we were burying people who had died from AIDS. At other rimes we knew, but chose to remain silent.
And when times
comes for each of us to make a personal precautionary decision, we fall
prey to doubt and false confidence. We hope that HIV/AIDS is someone else's
HIV/AIDS is not
someone else's problem. It is my problem. It is your problem. By allowing
it to spread, we face the danger that half of our youth will not reach
adulthood. Their education will be wasted. The economy will shrink. There
will be a large number of sick people whom the healthy will not be able
to maintain. Our dreams as a people will be shattered.
HIV spreads mainly through sex. You have the right to live your life the way you want to. But I appeal to the young people, who represent our country's future, to abstain from sex for as long as possible. If you decide to engage in sex, use a condom. In the same way I appeal to men and women to be faithful to each other.
Address to the nation by then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, 9 October 1998,
on behalf of former Preisdent Nelson Mandela.
aggressive herpes simplex, weight loss;
Persistent diarrhoea, aggressive herpes zoster, appetite loss;
Persistent cough, generalised pruritic dermatitis, hair loss;
Persistent headache, generalised candidiasis, skin texture loss;
Persistent body weakness, generalised lymphadenopathy, memory loss;
Unemployement, lost self-esteem, lost relationships; lost opportunities.
Ask me the feeling of one, two, three, four or all of them;
Singularly or grossly combined.
The famous syndrome tortured me mercilessly.
Crowded general hospital wards discharged me ruthlessly.
What next then?
Back to my village to die of course
East, West, North or South; Left, Right or Centre; Home is best.
Readily welcoming me back, a ghost, a skeleton, a shadow.
But just how far can this "welcome" stretch?
I hated the goddam place especially in my health status!
A mere ugly, wrinkled, pale image that I was.
Free entertainment to relatives, friends, in-laws;
Hurriedly flocking in to visit the patient I was.
More to see a case of "slim" life than symphathise or empathise.
I, all my kinsmen, swallowed this painfully.
Till minutes, hours, days, months, years have rolled by,
with stretched necks, whispered words of "may be it was not";
I DID NOT AND HAVE NOT DIED
What a sweet relief it is to share this fatal dilemma!
A problem shared is a problem halved.
Going public with AIDS,
Leaves little or no more to hide.
Varied reactions arise of course;
Rejection, sympathy, stigmatisation, empathy;
Finally acceptance; and perhaps genuine respect with time.
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