AIDS and Africa

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 27 (2):139 – 142 (2002)

Abstract

Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and in this issue of the Journal, seven authors discuss the moral, social and medical implications of having 70% of those stricken living in this area. Anton A. van Niekerk considers complexities of plague in this region (poverty, denial, poor leadership, illiteracy, women's vulnerability, and disenchantment of intimacy) and the importance of finding responses that empower its people. Solomon Benatar reinforces these issues, but also discusses the role of global politics in sub-Saharan Africa, especially discrimination, imperialism and its exploitation by first world countries. Given the public health crisis, Udo Schüklenk and Richard E. Ashcroft defend compulsory licensing of essential HIV/AIDS medications on consequentialist grounds. Keymanthri Moodley discusses the importance of conducting research and the need to understand a moderate form of communitarianism, also referred to as "ubuntu" or "communalism", to help some Africans understand research as an altruistic endeavour. Godfrey B. Tangwa also defends traditional African values of empathy and ubuntu, discussing how they should be enlisted to fight this pandemic. Loretta M. Kopelman criticizes the tendency among those outside Africa to dismiss the HIV/AIDS pandemic, attributing one source to the ubiquitous and misguided punishment theory of disease. The authors conclude that good solutions must be cooperative ventures among countries within and outside of sub-Saharan Africa with far more support from wealthy countries.

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Anton A van Niekerk
University of Stellenbosch

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