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university of zululand
Jun 12, 2001

Hi, I am a student in Communication Science at the University of Zululand in South Africa. For our ACER02 module/course I have to contact someone knowledgeable or working in the field of HIV/AIDS and ask some questions which hopefully you will respond to using the email mode. Our lecturer (Dr Volker Hooyberg - vhooyber@pan.uzulu.ac.za) wants me to put the following questions to you:

Question 1 Is there a cure for HIV/AIDS related diseases?

Question 2 How does the outside world (outside of South Africa) view the HIV/AIDS pandemic in our country? Please share your oipinion with me?

Question 3 What should South Africans do to "stop" the spread of this disease?

Thank you very much.

Yours faithfully SP Mngoma

Student number: 991126

Response from Dr. Pavia

Dear Mngoma,

There is no cure for AIDS or HIV. There are many effective ways to prevent the spread, although most countries in the world have failed to employ them well (including the United States). There are treatments which can slow the course of the disease dramatically, but these are not a cure. Some of the infections associated with HIV, such as tuberculosis can be cured.

The question about South Africa is touchy. I greatly admire many of the doctors, nurses, researchers and activists in South Africa who have done wonderful work. The AIDS conference in Durban in 2000 was perhaps the best international AIDS conference in 18 years. However, President Mbeke does not seem to have helped tackle the epidemic. His response has seemedlukewarm. His questioning of HIV as the cause of AIDS has caused negative reactions across the world, both in Africa and the Northern countries. This seems to have been terribly distracting. I should also say that the government response I admire most in the world is not the US, but Uganda, another African government. You should study what the Ugandans under President Msevene's strong leadershop have accomplished.

I am not so foolish as to say I know all of the things South Africans should do to halt the spread of the disease. Some of the things that will be needed are for everyone to learn the facts about AIDS, embrace people with HIV/AIDS as brothers and sisters, and talk openly about the disease. Getting people to change behavior is terribly difficult, but it is essential. People will need to be willing to get tested, to use condoms with all partners, including their spouses, and to talk about the risks with anyone they are willing to have sex with. These things have been difficult around the world. We have not made great progress here in the United States

But because it is hard, or because the answers are not clear does not mean that we all do not need to try, and to work as hard as we can to end this plague.

Good luck to you ATP



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