The essay on AIDS in this month’s magazine by Celia Farber starts off like a scientific whodunit — as Farber herself puts it, the tale she tells sounds eerily like the “Constant Gardener,” the recent movie based on a John Le Carre novel about evil pharmaceutical companies engaged in unethical human testing.
The epidemic is most severe in southern Africa. In some countries, including Botswana and Zimbabwe, as much as one fifth of the general population and more than a third of the adult population is HIV-positive. South Africa has more HIV cases (about five million) than any other country in the world. One in four adult South Africans, and one in nine of the general population, is HIV-positive. United Nations officials predict that if the epidemic continued apace, half of South Africa's 15 year olds will die of AIDS in the coming years. Similar impacts are predicted for South Africa's neighbors. The effect will be to change the pyramid-shaped age structure diagram typical of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe today to "chimney"-shaped structures (you can see a graph of this on page 450 in your textbook, along with my essay on AIDS in Africa, which you'll be reading later). In West Africa, more conservative, especially Islamic, mores about sexuality have slowed infection rates. However, AIDS is gaining ground rapidly in that subregion. In Ivory Coast, for example, 7 percent of adults are HIV-positive.
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