KHOPOTSO: ‘Still Everybody’s Business’ is a follow up to the first edition, ‘Everybody’s business’, published in June 2000. The book is divided into diverse themes covering a vast range of issues. The work is a detailed commentary based on articles published over 10 years in AIDS Analysis Africa, a specialist publication. Gillian Samuels is the editorial manager of the Metropolitan Group’s AIDS Solutions division.
GILLIAN SAMUELS ‘ ‘It covers development and social aspects, and economic aspects, and political aspects’¦ And we got some key writers in the field of AIDS to do commentaries on these different themes’¦ What happened then was we produced a book called ‘Everybody’s Business’. We thought that would be the end of it. But, as HIV just kind of evolves daily, we found, three years later, that a lot of the information was a bit outdated. And what we’ve done: we’ve come up with the second edition of ‘Everybody’s Business’, called ‘Still Everybody’s Business’.’
KHOPOTSO: Chris Desmond, a research specialist in the Child, Youth and Family Development Research Programme of the Human Sciences Research Council, is one of three editors of the book. He said putting the book together revealed a critical challenge.
CHRIS DESMOND ‘ ‘One of the key points it brought out was the complexity of HIV and AIDS’¦ It’s a very complex disease, which has very complex social causes’¦ It hasn’t come about from individual sexual behaviour. That’s one aspect of it’¦ Individual behaviour has an issue do not get me wrong. We’re not taking any responsibility away from individuals protecting themselves. But we have to take consideration of the social roots of this disease’¦ We had a society that has for a long time relied on migrant labour systems, on the disruption of family life, on the provision of poor health services to poor people, on the high rates of STIs that result from there, a disjointed country from the system of apartheid that’s disrupted the entire region.’
KHOPOTSO: Desmond said the book demonstrates that while AIDS is everybody’s business, in the same regard it’s also everybody’s fault.
CHRIS DESMOND ‘ ‘If we want to look about everybody’s business we look at everybody’s fault as well’¦ Everyone in this country has faults in this epidemic being in the situation that it is’¦ It’s my fault, it’s your fault, it’s government’s fault, it’s the private sector’s fault, and it’s our society’s fault. And if we address HIV and we leave that fault alone, then that sick society, which has led to the sick situation that we have now will remain and we will have another sick situation, which comes afterwards. We’ll be standing here in 10 years’ time talking about some other social problem that has stemmed from the society which we have left as an ill society.’
KHOPOTSO: One of the sections covered in the book is titled ‘Insuring People Living with HIV and AIDS’. Stephen Kramer, strategist for the Metropolitan Group’s AIDS Solutions division, is the author. He said one cannot read the book from cover to cover. However, it’s a tool that can be used, particularly in the workplace, to address challenges posed by HIV and AIDS.
STEPHEN KRAMER ‘ ‘I think the target is anyone who’s having to grapple with the issues around HIV’¦ It’s managers, it’s employers, it’s NGOs working in the field of AIDS and the world of work. It’s to give them something which is easily accessible to look at aspects which may arise in their thinking about HIV: What are the concepts around the law and HIV in the workplace; what are the concepts around human resources and HIV’¦ trying to understand the epidemiology of the disease ‘ what can we expect in the future; what about the modelling exercises ‘ Prof. Dorrington from UCT wrote about modelling’¦ and what are the issues in the context of modelling ‘ what are the short-comings. There are various aspects that are dealt with in the book and I think it’s just a way of referencing different dimensions that come into play around this epidemic.’
KHOPOTSO: This is one of many such publications and news stories that continue being fed to the public through print and broadcast as well as other media. Some have even suggested that this deluge of information causes what is now called AIDS information fatigue. Does this 284-page book not run the risk of contributing to the phenomenon? Chris Desmond, once again.
CHRIS DESMOND ‘ ‘A friend of mine died of HIV in 1999. In January this year, the mother of his child died. Last month his seven-year old child was raped by her HIV positive stepfather’¦ You’re worried about information. That child has suffered from AIDS fatigue ‘ not you and I. People say they’re sick of hearing about HIV. You can be sick of hearing about HIV when you die at ten years old having lost both your parents’¦ Nothing that we can go through will ever match what children like that are going through. And that’s one example I know. But there are many other examples like that.’
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