Posted by: fullandbye | February 16, 2005

aids march

I went this morning and marched on parliament with about 15,000 S. Africans demanding more progressive distribution of ARV’s.

I learned that in S. Africa, the average time between contraction of HIV and death is about a year.
***EDIT The average time between first symptoms of immune deficiency and death is about a year. From contraction the time is longer, but because of other factors, the period of dormancy is much shorter than it is in the US and Europe.

I thought of my mothers friend and my hero, Stephen Tabet, who devoted his life as a doctor towards developing an HIV vaccine, and who also was one of the first people who wrote protocol geared towards educating caregivers in matters of HIV patient dignity, and who commited suicide this past June.

I walked next to Maxine Oliphant, who has devoted his life to creating support networks for the poorest and most at risk populations in Kayelitsha township. As we walked, he translated the words of the beautiful and haunting marching hymns that the crowd was singing. He put his arm around my shoulder and said repeatedly “Yes brother, we are doing this together. You and me, we are marching together and we are doing good”.

And there, on Parliament Street in downtown Cape Town, I wept. I wept and felt shame and burning anger at US policy that places the profit motive of drug companies above the sanctity of human life.

How can I make this struggle my own?
How does one do good effectively? I can only be a part of so many causes, so what cause is my cause?
How shall I live?


  1. woah. between contraction of HIV and death? Not between full-blown AIDS and death? That’s INSANE.

  2. Apparently there is a new strain of HIV that matures to Stage 5 within 6 months. The first U.S. cases were diagnosed in New York a few days ago. The apocolypse shouldn’t start until after tea at least though.

  3. And it doesn’t respond to any of the standard drugs! Whee! People who believe that evolution is implausible should hang around viruses more often. Smart ass skeptics; monkey man will MAKE you believe.

  4. insane
    I did a little more research on this, and found the data hazy.
    But the life expectancy after contraction is crazyt short here, although that first statement I do not believe is true.
    It is true that many many people die in much less than a year after showing their first symptoms of immune deficiency, but the dormant pase of HIV varies from person to person and strain to strain. There is a lot of weird politice going on with ARV’s too. But I will tell you about them when I get back.

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