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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Yes, a raging pandemic can be suppressed. Recent history shows how.

At the time, I was reporting from villages in Eswatini, then known as Swaziland, where I could only find a handful of people my own age—only children and the elderly. I wrote from Johannesburg about the day Nelson Mandela broke a strong taboo and told South Africans that his son had died of AIDS. I told the story of a grandmother named Regina Mamba from Zambia who raised 12 orphaned grandchildren. And I interviewed courageous and often terminally ill activists like Zaki Ahmat, co-founder of the South African Treatment Action Campaign, who were fighting for their lives to access treatment.

Nearly two decades later, the fruits of what they fought for have been put on display and become a reminder — useful at the moment as the new wave of Covid makes this pandemic endless — of how much is possible.

Science in the form of drugs that suppressed, if not defeated, a deadly virus; a network of fierce, courageous activists; a coordinated international effort, including a huge US government investment, all come together to create the wonder of this empty, echoing Zambian hospital room.

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We know how to do it.

At a clinic near Cape Town, Linda-Gale Becker, a renowned HIV researcher, almost casually mentioned to me that “our longevity is back.” When I asked her what she meant, she showed me the data: South African life expectancy, which HIV reduced from 63 years in 1990 to 53 years in 2004, has risen steadily since the healthcare system began providing treatment. system, and this year will be 66 years old.

It was just one of a dozen interactions that I could not have imagined 25 years ago when I started covering HIV in Africa.

At a government clinic in Soweto on my recent trip, I met with a public health worker named Nellie Zulu, who told me that when people test positive for HIV at the clinic where she works, they are given their first pills to suppress the virus that day. day: no longer the gloomy wait I used to watch as people track their immune system decline until they qualify for scarce drugs.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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