HIV AIDS has created an unparalled dimension of human suffering in Southern Africa.
With nearly 1,000 HIV AIDS-related deaths a day in 2008, and 5.7 million people living with AIDS, the United Nations has singled out AIDS in South Africa as one of the world’s worst epidemics.
According to a report from the British-based international AIDS charity, AVERT, 50 percent of all deaths and a staggering 71 percent in the age group 15 to 49 years are due to HIV AIDS.
This is an excerpt from the film 'Hope in the Time of Aids' made for Unicef by Pete McCormack, co-directed with Tim Hardy and narrated by Pierce Brosnan. It offers a brief overview of the magnitude of AIDS in africa and the remarkable potential of ARV's (antiretroviral drugs).
The little girl in the film, Safi, an African orphan, speaks with great poignancy and dignity about losing her mother, painfully demonstrating the tragedy and trauma of losing your parents, your community and your future. The film is also worth watching to gain some understanding of the sheer scope of the AIDS in Africa epidemic, but also because it delivers a message of hope and a solution.
AVERT too says drugs such as retroviral treatments can help people lead virtually normal lives even when infected with HIV AIDS. However, their unavailability for the wider population in South Africa has magnified the death rate. It is reflected in its impact on the social, economic and educational lives of the people, especially the children.
The report also cites compelling statistics from a range of South African government and medical authorities and the United Nations’ UNAIDS/WHO:
• Average life expectancy in South Africa is now 54 years – without HIV AIDS it is estimated that it would be 64. Over half of 15 year olds are not expected to reach the age of 60
• Hospitals are struggling supply AIDS treatment for the number of HIV-related patients that they have to care for. In 2006 a leading researcher estimated that HIV-positive patients would soon accouint for 60-70 percent of medical expenditure in South African hospitals.
• Schools have fewer teachers because of the AIDS epidemic. In 2006 it was estimated that 21 percent of teachers in South Africa were living with HIV.
And this is why we ask that you knit for an orphan in Africa. It may be as close to putting a protective arm around them as you can get. They need your help and the comfort that a warm, lovingly
will give them.