Response to The New York Times

Editor, On August, 15, The New York Times published an article titled: “Pathogens May Change, but the Fear Is the Same” that painted a false picture of all Africans as fatalistic victims of the virus instead of activists who are building the global movement to demand access to the fruits of modern medicine.

Editor,

On August, 15, The New York Times published an article titled: “Pathogens May Change, but the Fear Is the Same” that painted a false picture of all Africans as fatalistic victims of the virus instead of activists who are building the global movement to demand access to the fruits of modern medicine.

Rwandans are in no way resigned. We battle not only for anti-retroviral drugs, but also for peace and reconciliation. We battle for quality healthcare, a fight we are already winning. In just five years, we have reduced child mortality by 50 percent; I could go on if I had space.

I petition the New York Times not to use metaphorical anecdotes about your experiences in airports as an anthropological metric. Simply, come and see what we are doing to fulfill the human rights of our population.

Rwanda has for the last decade fought to provide free universal access to antiretroviral therapy for all HIV-positive residents who are clinically in need. Who do you suppose is most responsible for this achievement?

Not the European Union or America. It is our government. Activists here and around the continent continue to mobilise and, in partnership with countries like yours, are making incredible progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Therefore, New York Times reporter Donald McNeil Jr’s  story comparing the global fight against HIV/AIDS to smallpox eradication had several misinformed claims about AIDS activism in Africa that I thought should be challenged.

Agnes Binagwaho

The writer is Rwanda’s Minister of Health and a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School.

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