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To Dr. Cruel

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( EFZ, Massachusetts, USA ) on March 22, 1999 at 12:30:46:

All right Doctor Cruel, a minor problem has been resolved. A while back you said that life expectancy in Botswana was 40 years. I was skeptical, to say the least, because the figures I had from 1994 stated that life expectancy was 63, and I didn't believe that any slide in health care could produce a 23-year drop in a mere 5 years. well, we were both right to an extent, but you were more right. LE in Botswana was indeed 63 years in 1994, but since then the AIDS epidemic has reached staggering proportions. A friend-of-a-friend of mine ran a clothing factory there, until half his workforce suddenly died of AIDS; he hightailed it to india, and was deathly scared of having picked up the disease himself. Apparently similar unbelievable declines in LE have occurred in Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, South africa, and several other countries.
At least, the AIDS epidemic is in a way more manageable than infant diarrhea or something of that nature. Since AIDS is caused by a single well-studied pathogen, and a relatively fragile one at that, it should be possible to develop a vaccine in the near future, whereas solving the problems of sanitation, etc. require a much more systemic, difficult change in the country. So I have hope that this drop in life expectancy is a tragic but brief aberration. Let us hope for a vaccine ASAP.
Sincere apologies for doubting that statistic.

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