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A New Book on AIDS in South Africa Says Country is Buckling From Epidemic

A new book on the AIDS epidemic in South Africa says the country will need thousands more doctors, nurses and social workers if it is to have a successful national anti-retroviral drug program. The book is called “Buckling: The Impact of AIDS in South Africa. It calls for greater assistance for domestic programs to help feed the poor and create jobs.

Hein Marais is the author of the book. From Geneva, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about what he means by the term “buckling?”

He says, “The type of impact of AIDS I think is best described by a word like buckling or some kind of a synonym. It’s not a sudden crash. It’s not something smacking and slamming into each other. It’s a slow kind of warping or skewing of society and peoples’ lives…for me, buckling captured that.”

Describing conditions in South Africa, Marais says, “Seeing a country which is already battling…great impoverishment, huge inequalities. Much of it racially skewed during the Apartheid era, but a lot of it continuing as well…On the other hand, we have an epidemic like AIDS, which overlays that reality. And I think that for me is where this buckling dynamic really becomes quite clear. When you have anywhere up to a half of a population living in poverty and then you have an epidemic that impoverishes them and their households as they become ill, as people die and breadwinners are no longer able to fend for themselves and their families, that impact of this is to worsen the poverty, worsen the struggles, deepen the struggles for basic survival.”

And he believes conditions will get worse. “We are now at the beginning stages of the worst of the AIDS epidemic. It doesn’t mean we’re at the beginning of the end, unfortunately, because I fear the epidemic is going to last for at least another generation.”

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