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Ways of the World

Carol Stone, business economist & active Episcopalian, brings you "Ways of the World". Exploring business & consumers & stewardship, we'll discuss everyday issues: kids & finances, gas prices, & some larger issues: what if foreigners start dumping our debt? And so on. We can provide answers & seek out sources for others. We'll talk about current events & perhaps get different perspectives from what the media says. Write to Carol. Let her know what's important to you:

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day

What can I tell you people about AIDS that you don't already know? For the folks who read this website, probably not a lot.

I can share some new perspectives I've gained in the last few weeks, and perhaps they will help round out your knowledge of this plague more as well.

AIDS is no stranger to us in Brooklyn. The first person I knew to die from it was lost in the spring of 1983, very early in the pandemic. Perhaps a dozen more friends and the husband of a cousin out in the Midwest have also succumbed. Most of what I've seen or heard about results from indiscreet sex or taking drugs or a contaminated blood transfusion. These circumstances would be familiar to you as well, probably.

Our General Convention and our new Presiding Bishop have called our attention to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and fighting AIDS in poor countries is one of them. Wall Street economists don't follow poverty very much, so I haven't done much more than casual reading about it. Most of what I know I learn from Barbara Crafton's weekly sermon eMos about the work of Episcopal Relief and Development (ER-D). But she asked if Ways of the World could look into the MDGs in greater detail, and I have started to do that.

Here's a brief beginning. An extra dimension of the tragedy of AIDS in Africa is its strong tie to poverty. Children there die of many kinds of infections and malnutrition. So it takes some strength merely to survive to adulthood and then to forge a living and make a family. But just as fathers and mothers have managed these considerable accomplishments is when AIDS strikes. Married men are the largest group of victims. Heterosexual intercourse is the primary means of its spread. So here are young families with the parents just at the prime of their lives and the prime of their earning years in an already fragile environment, when this cruel illness enters the household.

One author on this topic argues against spending for medications to treat the AIDS, which will soon take its victims' lives anyway. He asserts that a better use for anti-poverty funds is the prevention of the many childhood illnesses, so that young people have a better chance at growing up. But another writer counters this. If we treat a young AIDS mother and prolong her life another year, we keep her children with their own mother one more year and we keep the family's impending poverty at bay. The first factor, keeping the family together, is more than enough, we'd opine, to justify those expenditures for AIDS drugs.

One aspect of treatment both of these writers agree about: local, on-the-ground efforts at treatment and family care are the most effective. We will have much more to say about this going forward. Meantime, in a Hodgepodge entry yesterday, November 30, Debbie links us to ER-D and a listing of their extensive local, on-the-ground programs for AIDS victims. In ER-D's "Gifts for Life" we read about various kits and medications we can provide through our contributions. These hit right where the need is. And to learn more about good AIDS treatment in poor places, as well as numerous other effective approaches to deep poverty, try Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works by Stephen C. Smith from Palgrave Macmillan (2005). VivaBooks has it; just click to connect right to the book.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Carol,

I wonder if, in light of the Millenium Development Goals that Mother Crafton has asked you to investigate, you also had anything to say about fair trade designations, those labels on some foods (coffee, bananas, chocolate) at my (organic, California) grocery store from that seem to guarantee that the farmers are being given a fair price for their produce. Are they as good (honest, effective) as they seem? Are they the only guarantors of fair trade? How do you understand them in a larger economic context? What, perhaps unintended, problems do they seem to raise? I figure their market share is tiny, perhaps even miniscule, but do you think they have a future?


12/05/2006 8:31 AM  
Blogger Carol S. said...


That's a really good question and I don't know the answer. But I'll see if I can find some info on it. Starbucks and even Dunkin Donuts claim some or all of their coffee is "Fair Traded".

Thanks for asking & we'll get back to this!

Best wishes,

12/06/2006 4:46 PM  

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