Readers' letters.

 
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Great work you're doing

This is a gratitude for the good analysis given in the New African October issue about Aids in Africa and the Mbeki debate. Baffour Ankomah and Pusch Commey tackled the issue from the African perspective and provided thought-provoking questions.

I had the guts to give it to a fellow white student who was so happy that he asked for past issues of New African. I gave him the issue about Reporting Africa (NA, Jul/Aug). I hope it will open his eyes.

The Aids article was so good that I felt like shouting to my fellow Kenyans: "Wake up and open your eyes. Drugs are not sweets!"

Continue with the good work.

Patrick Mutahi

Nairobi, Kenya

Aids: complex but most vital issue

As a surgeon working in the Zimbabwe government a medical service for the last 14 years, I have seen the scourge of HIV at first hand, and know and see daily the suffering and death that result. Sadly, early warnings in the late 1980s went unheeded and we now see a calamity of unprecedented proportions.

What is needed is a calm and careful analysis of the best ways to deal with the disaster, which of course, as ever, affects the poor worse than the rich.

The reduction in HIV-related disease in the affluent West is attributable to widespread dissemination of information, and lately by the use of the so-called triple antiviral therapy (eg. zidovudine, didanioside and indinavir), which are useful principally in the early stages of the disease, as measured by normal CD4 lymphocyte counts. However, the HIV rate has NOT decreased.

In Africa; HIV transmission rates are higher because of the presence of much more ulcerative venereal (sexually transmitted) disease, the low incidence of condom use, and the widespread problem of men living, because of their work, separately from their wives -- a legacy which you correctly point out to be one of the worst of the period of colonial rule.

Of course, where there is poverty, women may feel obliged to gain an income by commercial sex work without being "professional" prostitutes, and thereby contribute to the spread of HIV. Promiscuity on its own, is not the whole story as you rightly indicated in your October issue; the serial promiscuity in the West may result in a much more drawn out inexorable rise in HIV disease.

What is certain is that the mosquito does not pass on HIV (see NA Oct, p8). It seems that Dr Abalaka, despite his qualifications, does not realise that the mosquito injects saliva and sucks blood, using different parts of...

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