New York Times Begins Series on ‘Death and Denial’ in South African Town of Hlabisa
The New York Times yesterday began a series, titled "Death and Denial," that examines the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the South African town of Hlabisa, located in the KwaZulu Natal Province, which has the highest adult rate of HIV in South Africa. Of the district's 250,000 residents, 50,000 are thought to be HIV-positive. The first article in the Times series reports that the "culture of denial" of the disease -- which has been "compounded" by South African President Thabo Mbeki's refusal to acknowledge the extent of the AIDS problem -- has "taken hold" in Hlabisa. Many traditional leaders and politicians still believe that the disease affects primarily whites and foreigners; professional men "boast" about extramarital affairs and the "pleasures of unprotected sex"; and some church leaders "burn condoms and assail people with the virus as sinners" (Swarns, New York Times, 11/25). The second article in the series today examines Hlabisa Hospital, where staffing shortages and lack of resources complicate the treatment of AIDS patients. Five hundred people took HIV tests at the hospital between Jan. 1 and June 30 this year, with 63% testing HIV-positive. According to the Times, the number of patients at the hospital has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, as HIV "swept" across the province (Swarns, New York Times, 11/26). The Times series will continue with stories about caregivers, migrant workers, teenagers, prostitutes and a Zulu healer (Swarns, New York Times, 11/25).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.