Things looking slightly better on this World Aids Day

I heard on the radio this morning that SA’s abysmal AIDS statistics show an improvement from previous years. Apparently there has been an almost 500% improvement in people voluntarily taking the HIV tests since last year. And, according to statistics released by our Deputy President, 200 000 new people have been placed on ARV treatment, which includes about 20 000 pregnant women.

I know that these figures are anything but acceptable and we need much more improvement, but these figures point to the success of organizations who persistently fought our government’s blinkered policy of denialism.

Had a certain beetroot brandishing bitch still been our Health Minister, appallingly abetted by our former President, AIDS would have claimed much more victims in South Africa, than it has. Thankfully that useless Minister of Health ruined her liver and is now resident in the whisky section of that big Liquor Warehouse in the sky, and our former pontificating President has been booted out, perhaps to join her soon in the tobacco section.

Hopefully, our incumbent President will spare some time off from making an ass of himself, to support further efforts to eradicate this dreadful pandemic.

Religion can make you happy, and prayer is not infectious after all

Earlier this evening, I came across a discussion about how religion makes people happy too, started by a fellow atheist on a social utility website and it somehow reminded me of an incident that occurred yesterday.

I may have committed a cardinal atheist sin on Sunday – I joined in a prayer circle, holding hands with a policewoman from De Deur Police Station on the left and an HIV-positive kid on the right.

Yeah, that’s right; but I couldn’t help myself as I was caught up in the moment of gratitude and happiness being expressed by a group of AIDS orphans and their adult minders. And in case you think I’m intimating that holding hands with an HIV-positive person or a police officer for that matter, as being an atheist cardinal sin; I’m not. I’m referring to the prayer circle. The prayer meant nothing to me; but it felt good to feel good together with others, who usually don’t have much to feel good about.

And how did I come to be in this strange position? You see, I, together with a few friends, were helping some police officers from the local Police Station feed these abandoned kids at an AIDS orphanage. The police usually find them abandoned and then bring them over to these “safe” houses (or places of safety) where they can get treatment and care, until they are more permanently taken care of by the social welfare system.

While we were standing around in the kitchen, the visiting pastor and the rest of the group spontaneously grabbed hands to form a prayer circle and I was caught in the middle of it. I’m still alive and well (for those who think that it is deadly to hold hands with an HIV-positive person or a police officer for that matter), and the intense prayer hasn’t convinced me to accept Jesus; so no harm done.

One thing though: I did feel a tinge of envy, when I later saw the pastor get behind the wheel of that shiny new Nissan Navarra pick-up truck, with a full house of extras, parked outside…