Thursday, October 22, 2009

Desmond Tutu, AIDS and Condoms

This isn't about soccer, exactly, but it certainly gives us more of the flavor of South Africa -- site of the 2010 World Cup.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, conscience of South Africa ... today visited the Tutu Tester, a mobile clinic named for him that offers tests for AIDS/HIV.

South Africa is the epicenter of AIDS (with more HIV positive cases than any other country in the world, smoe 5.6 million in a population of about 50 million), and only now is the government there acknowledging it. Only a few years ago the country's leaders ignored mountains of science and denied that AIDS was being spread throughout the country and was an enormous problem.

So, today, Desmond Tutu not only visited the folks at the Tutu Tester, he was shown how to wear a condom by one of the volunteers.

Using a wooden replica of a penis, that is.

I found this story at the Johannesburg Sunday Times web site, and you can read the whole thing here. Tutu was a bit embarrassed/abashed at the proceedings, it seems, but he bounced right back to remind everyone in South Africa how important condoms are and how important testing is, as well.

The point being, for purposes of this blog and the World Cup ... just know that if you go to South Africa, you are traveling to the country with more AIDS cases than any other country in the world. (Though India is catching up, in part because it has a population of 1.1 billion.) In South Africa, it is not a disease mostly associated with intravenous drug users and the gay community. All sorts of people have AIDS. It is a blight.

But South Africa finally is grappling with the issue, and people like Desmond Tutu are leaders in that sea change.
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