I don’t have many thoughts to share at this exact moment in time, but I feel I should wish Ben all the best for his upcoming stint in South Africa. He’s going to be working at hospitals in KZN (near Durban, I would think) to improve the government’s roll out of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs. After a landmark case brought against the government by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), ARV’s are supposed to be free to all South Africans. The actual rollout of ARV’s has been incredibly slow, so a lot of work needs to be done in order to make drugs available everywhere.
The problems that follow are not insignificant, however. There are all sorts of social and cultural problems that need to be overcome before truly widespread use of ARV’s can become a reality. (I don’t speak out of ignorance on this point: in 2005 I volunteered with the Bambisanani Project, an AIDS outreach organisation, so I understand some of the problems faced in rolling out ARV’s as well as the other roadblocks causing problems.) More on that will be coming soon enough, and Ben will definitely have his own opinions in the near future, so you should have a look at what he has to say.