The Tsunami of AIDS
The Toronto Star‘s Patrick Corrigan, in today’s editorial cartoon, illustrates something which has been unsettling to me for the past few days. His cartoon shows aid trucks rushing across the Arctic Circle to Asia with an impoverished African’s cup held out in the futile hope that such assistance would come there.
One wonders, if remote African villages were in sun-seeking tourism brochures, whether help fighting HIV/AIDS might be a little faster coming. Some 8,00 people die each and every day of HIV/AIDS-related illness, the overwhelming majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa. While math was never my strong suit, UNAIDS says 3.1 million people died of AIDS in 2004. AIDS, as we now know, is preventable. Tsunamis are not. ‘Natural disasters’, on the scale we have seen in southern Asia, are once-in-a-lifetime tragedies. AIDS is making sure the average sufferer does not have a lifetime!
Now I am sure that people working to help people with AIDS do not begrudge the generosity being shown towards tsunami victims (or, if they do, they are biting their tongues). AIDS gets the full court press on December 1, World AIDS Day, but then is left for the occasional feature writer to give the story a new twist the rest of the year.
I ask it again, just as rhetorically as the first time: how many dead tourists from Europe and North America (not to discount the heavy losses of locals in the tsunami ) would it take for AIDS to get governments all over the world to fall over one another trying to help?