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Yesterday's New York Times Magazine contained an interesting article discussing the next step to fight AIDS in South Africa: battling cultural perceptions. When a Pill Is Not Enough makes clear early on that increased distribution of medicines and the such has been a great achievement, but that "it cannot penetrate what has become the most difficult terrain in AIDS work: the insides of people's heads." Through profiles of various relief organizations and individuals we find that results are no longer necessarily measured by tangible items but by the ability to effectively engage a community.
The article provides an extensive and positive review of the controversial South African outreach and awareness organization, loveLife, whose Global Fund grants have been terminated. Whatever your view of organizations such as loveLife may be, this article is worth a read as it highlights the looming issues in AIDS relief on the whole. As the author writes:
Without attention to the social, psychological and cultural factors surrounding the disease, we are throwing away money and lives. This is the new frontier. Twenty-five years into the epidemic, we now know how to keep people from dying of AIDS. The challenge for the future is to keep them from dying of stigma, denial and silence.
*Andy Jeninga is an intern with CGD's HIV/AIDS Monitor and is currently pursuing a degree at Georgetown University.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.