Monday, October 24, 2005

The American "Me" and the African AIDS Pandemic

"UN charity Unicef says 18 million children in sub-Saharan Africa could be orphaned by Aids by the end of 2010."

90 million Africans could be infected by HIV in the next 20 years if more is not done to combat the epidemic, the UN has warned. Some 25 million Africans have HIV, which causes Aids, at present."

- BBC News

I'm sure there's a lot of folks out there new to the ol' Zenfo Pro site who wonder why I often post about the plight of the people of Sub-Saharan Africa.

It has very little to do with wanting to do some kind of community service or simply trying to make the world a better place. Its more personal than that.

Two of my very good friends, Mesi and Asti, are from Ethiopia. Mesi's fiancee, Mike, hails from Eritrea. My dad was grew up in Egypt. One of the nicest, most compassionate people I met in grad school grew up in Kenya - and never turned a fellow student away when they needed someone to talk to or a hot meal.

Call me selfish, but the idea that the continent that gave rise to human civilization, provided the ancient basis for much of the world's culture, art, and religion, is in such dire straits while the West frets over who stole Britney Spears's baby photos just pisses the hell out of me.

90 million people. Not simply random television footage shot in some remote corner of the world. Men and women, and children. All expected to be infected with HIV in the next two decades, and with the poor state of available health care and medicines on the continent, there's a chance we'll be burying 90 million bodies en masse in 25-30 years.

90 million. That's nearly three times the population of Canada, about one-third of the population of the United States. This is roughly the equivalent of the UN announcing that the entire populations of Belgium, Sweden, Italy, and the Czech Republic are expected to be HIV-positive by 2025.

And 18 million orphans? Angelina Jolie's going to need a bigger house. Every resident of Los Angeles County, Calif., would have to adopt two or more kids to give these children a fighting chance.

What pisses me off even more is the fact that as I write, there's some shoegazing emo kid in Denver overly obsessed with how to be more like Conor Oberst or Chris Carrabas. There's probably some supermodel throwing up her three-carrot dinner in some pub restroom in London. On N. Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, some half-retarded trustfunder's buying a new Gucci manpurse to match his $50 Dolce & Gabbana v-neck tee shirt, that he'll wear underneath a $1,200 Zegna sportscoat to a movie premiere. And none of them give a shit about anything other than preserving their own precious bubble of American self-absorption.

Must be nice to be that full of shit sometimes. Wish I didn't have the luxury of not caring, wish I could just turn off the news and not see the dark bronze faces of people that look like people I know and that I care about.

I'm sure that same self-absorption will do a lot of comfort to the teenage mother in Ghana who just found out that her son's illness was spread to him - and her - by the child's father. Or the old women destined to wail over the bodies of their village's Generation X and Y in places like Chad and Niger.


Leigh said...

I have seen so many programs regarding aids in Africa (mainly S.Africa) and it's just heartbreaking. My uncle died of HIV back in 1996 in the Philippines. My mom saw him in his last few days of his life and spend a lot of time in the "H4" unit of the hospital. The stories she came back with...just sad situations with women and children who contracted the disease.

Yes, as Americans, we tend to forget about the basics: Life, Health, and Love.

Megan said...

Its really pathetic you know. lupe and i were at the forum at caesars looking at dresses for a wedding reception. its so funny that you mention zegna because this one dude was standing out front of their store with his old lady. he was like so excited that he just dropped like a grand on like fucking three shirts. i kept wondering why the fuck some guy needs that? and he may have the money to look good but he was obviously a major asshole. Lupe and I walked by him and he gave us that look like "dirty mexicans...are you going to rob me?"

anyway, the whole AIDS in Africa thing really makes me want to can we live in a country where asshole metros can drop a grand on shirts while most of the world is fighting aids poverty and for freedom? we spend all this goddamne d money in Iraq but we have a president who's worried about getting abstinance-only programs going?

What the fuck? when did we become a country of metrosexual pussies? hello! america used to give the world ben franklins and lincolns, now we give them paris hilton and the tara reid.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. And leigh, sorry about your uncle girl. my mom's uncle died of AIDs two years ago. yeah, it really sad to hear all the stories.

Anonymous said...

don't know what's worse - guys with manpurses or people who don't care about their fellow people. just swinging by. love the blog!

Ms. Monkeythong said...

On the positive side, a couple I know from my Buddhist center is trying to adopt an HIV+ teen from Ethiopia.

So, someone cares, at least.

Leigh said...

Anon- you have a good point there, I sure as hell can't decide!