Paul Lachine

A batalha contra a SIDA que a África do Sul pode vencer

ERFURT – No que diz respeito ao combate ao VIH/SIDA, a África do Sul foi, durante muitos anos, o exemplo perfeito daquilo que não se deve fazer. Até há pouco tempo, a resposta do governo à epidemia, que ameaçava a própria força vital do país, era medíocre e irrealista. Mas a crescente pressão que se fez sentir durante as duas últimas décadas - por parte de grupos da sociedade civil, de órgãos de comunicação social e de políticos mais esclarecidos - está finalmente a mostrar resultados. A doença, que causou um profundo sofrimento a nível económico e social e que reduziu drasticamente a esperança de vida, parece estar a regredir.

Contudo, um novo relatório das Nações Unidas sugere que a batalha da África do Sul contra o vírus está longe de ter terminado. O país regista o problema mais grave de VIH a nível mundial. Actualmente, cerca de 5,6 milhões de cidadãos - mais de 10% da população - estão infectados com o vírus. Todos os anos registam-se cerca de 300.000 novos casos de infecção e 270 mil mortes relacionadas com a SIDA. As pessoas infectadas com o VIH/SIDA poderão vir a contrair outras infecções: estima-se que cerca de 70% dos sul-africanos infectados com o vírus da SIDA também contraem tuberculose e calcula-se que, ao longo da vida, metade das pessoas portadoras do VIH venha a contrair tuberculose. Pior ainda, um terço das mulheres grávidas - uma percentagem demográfica extremamente susceptível à contracção da SIDA - foram diagnosticadas com o vírus, que pode ser transmitido aos seus bebés durante o parto.

A atrocidade da doença e o ritmo a que se propagou, apanhou muitos sul-africanos de surpresa. À semelhança do que sucedeu nos países desenvolvidos, as infecções por VIH concentravam-se inicialmente nos grupos de hemofílicos, homossexuais sexualmente activos e consumidores de droga por via intravenosa. Porém, durante a década de 1990, e por razões que ainda não são totalmente compreendidas, o vírus proliferou de forma explosiva entre a população em geral. O número de sul-africanos infectados (equivalente à população da Dinamarca) é superior ao do conjunto dos países vizinhos: Moçambique, Lesoto, Botsuana, Namíbia, Suazilândia e Zimbábue.

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