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“South Africa’s AIDS ravages “an army of orphans

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His father was the first to die of AIDS, followed by his mother a year later. Like many South Africans in the mid-2000s, Ndumisogamede lost his parents in quick succession. His treatment has since stabilized the crisis, but the effects of this “lost generation” are still being felt.

The now 28-year-old rapper, who has had to raise his younger brothers since he was 13, shows a photo of his parents hanging on the dim wall of the garage in the poor town of Boss Rawls, where he lives. A few kilometers from Johannesburg.

“They were both HIV positive. Their deaths pretty much devastated me,” he told AFP. He fled drugs and delinquency and says music saved him.

Just days before World AIDS Day on December 1st, South Africa still had 13.7% of people living with HIV. This is one of the highest rates in the world.

But more than 5.4 million of the estimated 8.2 million infected people are on antiretroviral drugs, one of the world’s largest HIV treatment programs, dramatically reducing mortality.

As a result, “the number of children orphaned by AIDS has decreased,” says Agnes Mokoto, who runs a dedicated program in Cape Town with the NGO Networking HIV.

According to UNAIDS, it will fall from 1.9 million in 2009 to 960,000 in 2021. The age gap caused by the epidemic has created a lost generation of young parents in particular.

– Dr. Beetle’s Remedy –

“During the dark ages of the early 2000s, people were dying one after another, creating legions of orphans,” said Linda Gale Becker, M.D., of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.

Ndumiso’s parents disappeared some 15 years ago, at the height of the epidemic. The infection spread even more quickly because then-President Thabo Mbeki was unaware of the crisis and slowed the large-scale deployment of antiretroviral drugs.

More than 330,000 lives have been lost as a result of the mismanagement of Mr. Mbeki and his health minister, according to a Harvard University study.

Despite progress, the South African government “continues to be concerned about high infection rates”, particularly “among teenage girls and young women,” Vice President David Mabuza said recently.

Transactional sex with older men, known as ‘sugar daddies’ or ‘blessers’, is a major contributor to this epidemic, fueled by a very high unemployment rate (33.9%).

And the stigma of these women often hinders “satisfactory health care,” says Sivongile Chabalala, president of the Campaign for Treatment Action, and guilt-tripping those seeking condoms or seeking testing. I am referring to nurses who hold hands.

– Stigma –

The taboos and embarrassment surrounding AIDS also isolated the young musician brother. (…),” recalls the skinny youth.

Neighbors gave them food. Ndumiso found work at a fast food restaurant, but his salary was “not good enough.”One of his two younger brothers is a drug addict and now lives in a nearby cottage. I’m in.

The stigma also prevented his parents from getting proper treatment. “If they had been treated properly, one of them would still be alive,” the rapper says.

Other AIDS orphans also struggle to obtain documents.

Nonhula Mazareni, who runs a shelter in western Johannesburg, says she cares for “21 young people who are living with HIV and have no ID.”

“I have a blind little boy and I took him in when he was 2 years old. He is now 24, unemployed and unable to claim welfare because he has no paperwork,” she says. .

Ndumiso recently became a father. Next to the bed is a gray cot with a foam mattress on the floor. He proudly shows his AFP the latest music his video on his computer and beats in his head.

He’s also looking for a job, but without a diploma it’s complicated. The melancholic young man wants to believe that if AIDS had not killed his father, he would have had an “opportunity.”

“Life wouldn’t be like this.

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