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Why are HIV rates so high in Africa? And what does this have to do with human rights?

When Apr 10, 2006
from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Where Foster Auditorium, 101 Pattee Library
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HELEN EPSTEIN

 

Writer and Independent Consultant

Helen Epstein is a Visiting Research Scholar at Princeton and a consultant and writer specializing in public health in developing countries. She has conducted research on reproductive health and AIDS in Africa for such organizations as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Population Council and Human Rights Watch, and her articles have appeared in the New York Review of BooksGranta Magazine and many other publications. Her current research interests include the right to health care in developing countries and the relationship between poverty and health in industrialized countries.

Why are HIV rates so high in Africa? And what does this have to do with human rights?

The HIV epidemic in southern Africa is uniquely severe. In such countries as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, some 20-40% of adults carry HIV, a rate some ten times higher than anywhere else in the world, outside of Africa. Many theories have been proposed to explain why this is the case. Some experts have suggested that the answer is so complicated it may never be fully understood. Others claim that some answers may be emerging from recent epidemiological and statistical studies and that determining the true cause, and informing people about it, is a matter of great urgency, if people are to become empowered to protect themselves from this terrible disease.