The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund are among groups reporting nearly 120,000 adolescents between the ages of 10-19 who died of AIDS illness in 2013 in Africa (AP report here).
Here are some numbers that help put into context the volume of 120k human bodies (not lives – just bodies because its much harder quantifying loss of life e.g., opportunities, hope, potential, human contribution, future, dreams, etc.)
- Roughly the population of Cambridge Mass (123k)
- Bigger than my midsized city of Allen, TX (80k), and
- WAY bigger than Sara Palin’s “Real America” town of Juneau that boasts 30k.
“Global health organizations said Tuesday that AIDS is now the leading cause of death for adolescents in Africa, and the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally.”
When it comes to the split:
“Adolescent girls, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are most affected… In South Africa in 2013, more than 860 girls became infected with HIV every week, compared to 170 boys.”
Many of these studies or reports typically refer to stressed resources, educational limitations, and socio-economic inequalities as major contributing factors to these conditions, but they often fail to implicate the culturally adopted and RELIGIOUS norms including imported ideas such as this: As a former Catholic, Pope Francis continues to disappoint me with his steadfast unevolved stance of “natural” birth control, while playing a word game of admonishing Catholics for “breeding like rabbits”. Those words (here) in regards to a woman expecting her eighth child where the pontiff asked:
“Does she want to leave seven orphans?” while wondering aloud whether she was trying to tempt God by undergoing an eighth birth by cesarean section.
No Pope Francis. Seven orphans are not acceptable, but neither are 120k lives. We might find common ground on other things – definitely not on this one. It’s Lent – I gave up my Catholicism a few years ago. I’ll trade you your hat and your antiquated ideas on birth control for one of these cool t-shirts!
And to be clear, Africa doesn’t need us to send more saviors there, we just need to stop exporting our bad ideas.