Thursday, December 21, 2006

Culturing HIV - A news story

If you have access to the Wall Street Journal from yesterday, either online or in ink, please check out the article titled "African Monarchy Sparks a Debate Over AIDS and Sex" by Michael M. Phillips. (Thank you Joel and Dan for pointing this article out to me.)

The story summarizes many of the challenges that are inherent in this work. As understanding necessarily precedes the advent of effective solutions to these challenges, I invite you to have a look and share your ideas.

For those without access to the WSJ, the article points out recent comments made by a popular talk show host with royal connections who is willing to do a lot of showy talking about HIV, such as declaring condoms "un-Swazi" and ensuring his listeners that he never dons the device. He recently stated that groups addressing HIV and AIDS in Swaziland are "full of half-truths and lies."


The article goes on to discuss Swaziland's monarchical traditions and offers an impressive (if not slightly pessimistic) survey of Swazi culture as it interfaces with the epidemic. The article sets the stage, but sets it somewhat drearily.

I do not mind dreary, necessarily. If the weather is dreary, you dress accordingly. If [sometimes] detrimental, entrenched cultural practices and loose-mouthed talk show hosts are in the forecast, they too can be addressed. I assure you that they are much easier to shape and dress down (respectively) than meteorological phenomena.

In its final paragraphs of the article itself, there is a break in the clouds and the author offers some hope of a solution. He suggests that Swazi culture, with all of its uniqueness and nuance, actually has potential to become a tool for combatting rather than perpetuating the epidemic.

I agree. Do you?


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