oa Africa Insight - Aids in Africa The socio-cultural roots of a disease

Volume 32, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



It seems to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) is the direct cause of AIDS, defined by Luc Montagnier, one of the HIV co-discoverers, as a disease affecting people who have no other illness and are not undergoing any treatment that may depress the immune system. Its main manifestation is the presence of more opportunistic diseases. Montagnier adds that the dissident or alternative approach to the disease is due to the complexity of this viral origin illness, which has led to confusion between the co-factors contributing to its development (e.g. drugs and secondary infections) and the primary cause. AIDS has been causing a drama of almost unheard-of proportions in some parts of the world, while other regions remain minimally affected. In the early 1990s, after the AIDS epidemic had ravaged California, some authors forecast that the population of the industrialised world would be decimated by the disease. Their predictions failed to materialise. However, millions of people have become seropositive and are dying in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in those regions characterised by the absence of an Islamic majority. These developments seem to confirm, once again, Louis Pasteur's expression: ""The microbe is nothing; the terrain everything.

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