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Western psychotherapy, its models, its assumptions and its merchants have done well for themselves.

With around 400 distinct models being peddled in one form or another, the European and American traditions of psychotherapy have made good business for their adherents.

Western medicine has done well for itself. With the pharmaceutical industry turning over hundreds of billions of dollars every year, this behemoth is practically unassailable by other models of health promotion and maintenance. But both Western psychotherapy and its medical counterpart have come up short in the promotion of health among the sufferers of the world's most devastating currrent epidemic: HIV/AIDS.

Take a stroll through the rural backwaters of KwaZulu/Natal, South Africa's most populous and AIDS-ridden province. See, at every turn, the signs of the AIDS epidemic-an emaciated man curled into the shadows of a one-roomed home; a child bathing a younger sibling.

Take your stroll on a Saturday afternoon and watch a proud hearse and its humble entourage slowly winding its dusty way through a village, valiantly trying to affi rm the dignity of communities dessimated by AIDS-related deaths. And smell the turgid scent of the failure of modern medicine, psychotherapy and behavioural risk management.


And when the hearses have passed and the dust settled, when families have returned from funerals, children's feet have begun again to blur the tyre tracks of the funeral processions into the familiar African earth, extend your stroll.

Watch how families return to family life, how people greet others in a way uniquely African; how people greet you, the stranger with the clean collar and the vitamin-enriched urine. And tell me how Africa survives AIDS.

Make some notes about the human warmth and generosity of people who live daily with AIDS-related violent crime and despair, who continue to attend funerals weekly and enchant their hope with tireless hours of rich African song and dance.

Extend your wanderings to a thousand health sites in the heart of Africa, where Africans stare down the cruelty of the scourge of AIDS and its effects. And wonder what would be the most African and human response to such an ingenious and relentless virus.

Wander back to the people, the warmth, the forgiveness and the humantiy of the village in which you began your questioning. And know the soul of Africa's response to HIV and AIDS.

- John Soderlund



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