Former South African President Nelson Mandela on Thursday announced that his son Makgatho Mandela, who was 54, had died that day in a Johannesburg hospital from AIDS-related pneumonia -- a revelation that ended weeks of speculation that Makgatho had AIDS. Mandela last week at a news conference said, "I announce that my son has died of AIDS," adding, "Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness, like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/10). Several newspapers have published opinion pieces and editorials in reaction to Mandela's announcement, some of which are summarized below.
- Laura Ofobike, Akron Beacon Journal: Mandela's announcement "put personal tragedy aside to plead for those most affected to break their silence" because HIV/AIDS will not "go away if we ignore it," Ofobike, the Journal's chief editorial writer, writes in a Journal opinion piece. A combination of "denial," "self-delusion," "anger and defensiveness," as well as "deep suspicion" have contributed to the silence surrounding the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, which has taken a "fearsome toll," Ofobike writes (Ofobike, Akron Beacon Journal, 1/11).
Kansas City Star: By speaking out about the AIDS-related death of his son, Mandela is "trying to foster a new way of thinking" about the disease, a Star editorial says. "AIDS will not be erased by refusing to speak out," the editorial says, concluding, "The first step toward any solution is to bring the problem out of the shadows" (Kansas City Star, 1/12).
Sunday Times: With his "brave" announcement, Mandela has "once again proved himself to be a courageous leader who leads by example," South Africa's Times says in an editorial. In order for South Africa to prevail in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the country needs "to first acknowledge that it is the single greatest crisis facing our nation today," and Mandela's announcement "will go a long way in removing the stigma that is still associated with HIV/AIDS," the editorial says (Sunday Times, 1/9).
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Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2005 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.