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Zimbabwe

The Underground Economy of AIDS

In 2001, a group of scholars at University of California, San Francisco came up with a scheme that they hoped would protect African women from HIV. They had been working in Zimbabwe, a poor, politically troubled nation in Southern Africa, where the epidemic had killed more than a million people over two decades. Virtually everyone in Zimbabwe was aware of AIDS. The country had been exposed to anti-AIDS media campaigns since the 1980s and a school-based AIDS education program since 1994. Nevertheless, by 2001, around a quarter of all Zimbabwean adults were infected with HIV, and the virus was spreading rapidly, especially among teenage girls. It was urgent for researchers like them to come up with a solution.

 

Nightgirls

t is so hot here the highway melts everyday. Vehicles flattening it to oily, gleaming blacktop. I am sitting at a plastic table on a hot concrete step at the Pensao Montes Namuli, watching the road, drinking a dark, malty domestic beer called Manica. The bottle is cool and slippery in my hand. The air smells of tar. The earth simmers in the brown heat, even as dusk approaches. Guy reckons it’s 35 degrees centigrade. I smoke another cigarette. The sun sinks towards the dust-hazed horizon.