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Reged: 09/25/02
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Look, People In Africa are Just like Denialists
      #41619 - 10/11/02 02:05 AM

Dying of AIDS in Nigeria: A young man's life ends in loneliness and pain

By GLENN McKENZIE -- Associated Press

BILLIRI, Nigeria (AP) -- When David Daudu read the blood test showing he was infected with the AIDS virus, he ripped up the hospital's report and burned the shreds. "I just went crazy," he said.

Less than 12 months later, he was dead.

As his health slowly failed, Daudu, 29, was thrown out of the house he shared with his brother and sister-in-law. When he could no longer work as a motorcycle messenger, he was forced to beg for handouts. People he had once called friends ignored him or called him "mad."

In his last few weeks, when his once-strong body had grown thin and frail, his impoverished and widowed mother, Halimatu Daudu, took him into her single-room stone and thatched roof hut. She let him sleep in the only bed while she curled up on the red dirt floor.

By then, however, David didn't trust his mother's motives, refusing to take food from her, which he accused her of poisoning with "witchcraft medicine."

When complete strangers appeared at the door of the circular room to inquire about his health, though, he immediately asked them for oranges and soup made from the local okra plant. "My favourite food," he said. It was also almost the only thing he could still eat.

David was now barely more than a skeleton. His eyes were still bright and lips full but his cheeks stuck out like ridges and his bones jutted against his skin. He eagerly sucked orange pieces as they were placed gently into his mouth.

A few days later, he smiled when someone brought him a bottle of antacid to calm the pain he felt in his stomach, yet before he could take the medicine he fell feverishly asleep.

The last two days of David's life, he rolled in and out of consciousness, rarely speaking. When he was awake, he refused all food and drink. His mother sat outside the hut silently, with unfocused eyes gazing distantly, her head supported in her hands. "He won't survive the night," she said.

But she continued to force cough syrup and liquid from a bottle labelled "Blood Tonic" into David's mouth despite his weak protests. Twice, she and another relative pried open David's lips and tried to pour tea into his mouth. Both times, the liquid dribbled out of his lips.

"I cannot stand it any longer," said Halimatu, who began drinking palm wine brought to her in a gourd by a local vendor. "I don't feel like eating," she said when food was presented to her.

On the morning of Sept. 3, David began gasping for air. His mother came running inside the hut at his last breath. She covered his face with a sheet, then collapsed at the foot of the bed. "My son! My son! Why? Why? Why?" she wailed.

She lay writhing and crying on the floor for a long time, before neighbours came and wrapped the body in a gold-coloured sheet of hand-woven jute. David Daudu was buried the same day next to his father.

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Re: Look, People In Africa are Just like Denialists new
      #41910 - 10/15/02 08:38 PM

Hi Peanut!

Thanks so much for your posts! Finally the majority rules and those idiot deadbeats trying to control this board are overuled! Their writing sucks, their theories are silly and they seem to be posting on every board you go to. But the truth will rule and their bluster will fade, hopefully, without too many people falling for their lies.

From the washington Post October 14, 2002

An Optional Catastrophe

By Sebastian Mallaby
Monday, October 14, 2002; Page A29

This isn't going to be a clever column. It's going to say something blindingly obvious. But sometimes the obvious needs stating, because it is taken for granted and then quietly buried. A century from now, when historians write about our era, one question will dwarf all others, and it won't be about finance or politics or even terrorism. The question will be, simply, how could our rich and civilized society allow a known and beatable enemy to kill millions of people?

The enemy, of course, is the HIV virus, and the unnecessary stupidity of its slaughter is brought home by Canon Gideon Byamugisha. The canon is an Anglican from Uganda who lives with the virus. Four years ago he nearly died. His weight fell from 170 pounds to 130 pounds, and he was in and out of the hospital; he would have faded away, as his wife had done before him, if it hadn't been for the intervention of his bishop, who appealed to the health minister for a supply of anti-retroviral drugs. The drugs were procured, and Byamugisha's health started to improve. His weight recovered, leveling off a fraction below the 170-pound mark.

Since this resurrection, Byamugisha has become an AIDS campaigner, attacking the taboos that form the channels along which the virus spreads. But his central message is the one that his full figure announces: AIDS can be beaten back. There is no reason why the plague should have killed 3 million last year; nor why it should now be advancing quickly into China and India. Yet this monstrous destruction proceeds because not enough people have been shocked into revolt.

Here, surely, is the puzzle for future historians. How could we, a society with the technology to land a missile on Saddam Hussein's bathmat, not mobilize the science necessary to defeat the scourge? How could the United States, a nation that spends $10 billion a year on soaps and perfumes, give $1 billion in public money annually for battling the virus and regard that as enough? How is it that we have known about AIDS for two decades yet only now are starting to react?

Some say reaction is hopeless, but that is wrong. Byamugisha's healthy frame is a symbol of his country: Uganda has driven the HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women in its capital down from 30 percent to 11 percent during the past decade. Senegal, Brazil and Thailand all have had some success in fighting off the virus. AIDS need not advance unchallenged. It is an optional catastrophe.

So why do we mobilize for an Iraq war that may cost more than $100 billion, even as we offer $1 billion a year to fight a scourge equivalent to 2 1/2 Sept. 11's every day? It's partly that Iraq seems to threaten us more directly, but "seem" is the operative word here. If AIDS is allowed to kill one in three Africans, the failed states and power vacuums that result are bound to harm U.S. interests. And if the United States stands back and lets this happen, its moral claim to global leadership will have been undermined.

The real reason for our muted reaction is that AIDS is so monotonous. In the 1980s Americans identified passionately with the struggle against apartheid, because the white South African leadership provided a stream of televised outrages that kept the blood boiling. Quieter oppression, from North Korea to Burma, doesn't provoke the same fury because there's no CNN effect. The AIDS pandemic is silent, repetitive and boring. People are upset the first few times they hear about it. Then they move on.

Well, moving on is killing people. Millions of people. Unnecessarily. The death toll stands at 20 million; some 40 million are living with the virus; new infections are occurring at a rate of 5 million per year. The spread can be contained, but this isn't happening in most places. People can be treated, but only 1 percent of HIV-positive Africans are receiving drugs.

Gideon Byamugisha could have been one of the majority, buried and forgotten. Instead he has remarried, to another HIV-positive survivor who lost her husband to the pandemic. The couple recently had a baby, born free of the virus thanks to drugs that inhibit mother-child transmission. Their daughter is 5 months old now, and she's happy and healthy.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

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