July 29, 2004

South Africa and AIDS

I've posted before about the impact of the AIDS virus in Africa. About how 2-3 people have to be hired to perform the same job in middle management in South African companies because chances are statistically very good that only one of them will be around to get the job done. Or maybe I haven't posted about this. I have certainly harangued my wife about it. (By the way, the poor dear deserves your sympathy entirely because before I discovered blogging, she was the sole "beneficiary" of my rants.)

There was an article in the NY Times this morning about AIDS in South Africa. Its lead in was about how graves have to be recycled in Durban because of the high number of deaths and the small amount of cemetery space. It included some shocking statistics and I want to bring them out here so that all my readers, all eleven of you (and you know who you are), can share my concern:

*51 of the 53 municipal cemeteries are officially filled to capacity

*"Five years ago, we used to have about 120 funerals a weekend, but this number has now jumped to 600," Thembinkosi Ngcobo, who heads the municipal department of parks and cemeteries, said in an interview this week. "In order to cope with the current rate of mortality - we hope it is not going to increase - we will need to have 12.1 hectares every year of new gravesites." That is nearly 30 acres.

*Roughly one in eight South Africans is H.I.V.-positive

*in Durban, South Africa's third-largest city with about 3.5 million people, a survey two years ago of women at pregnancy clinics found about 35 percent were infected with H.I.V.

This is tragic. I just never contemplated the effects of the deaths vis a vis funerals and cemetery use. I'm glad that the NY Times brought these facts out.

Posted by Random Penseur at July 29, 2004 08:58 AM

Every one of those stats is devastating. Hard to imagine how things can get so far out of hand.

Posted by: Mick at July 29, 2004 11:37 AM

Exactly, Mick, devastating.

Posted by: RP at July 30, 2004 05:33 AM

I have been following AIDS/HIV in Africa and the rest of the world for some time. I marvel at how callous the rest of the world seems in the midst of this mass death and destruction of an entire continent. Who is going to look after the orphans who are left behind and abandoned by their kin?? How will the these underdeveloped countries ever recover??? I wish I had some answers.

Posted by: Azalea at July 30, 2004 03:33 PM

Darn darn darn. Shattering article.

Posted by: Anne at July 30, 2004 05:46 PM

Did you know that when people are buried here in Holland, they're dug up and burned or something after 50 years so that the grave can be used again? I think it's also because people rot faster since it's always so damp here...

Now I remember why I want to be cremated.

Posted by: Hannah at July 31, 2004 11:06 AM
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