Perspectives: Deadly Consequences is a Documentary programme.


Perspectives: Deadly Consequences

South African President Thabo Mbeki has called the 21st century "The African Century" but others ask how that can be possible when "We are a dying nation...". Can there be an African Century if those who must create it are dying from a virulent pandemic? In a one hour this programme will look at how AIDS is tearing South African society apart, affecting people at every level: from the high and mighty to the meek and lowly and the newest of the new.

In 'Deadly Consequences' CNN's Johannesburg bureau chief, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, profiles AIDS sufferers across South Africa, painting a picture of the way the disease is striking at this newly-liberated society, mirroring the devastation that is taking place across the African continent. Young and old, rich and poor, rural and urban, black and white are profiled in this one-hour documentary, visiting every sector in society.

AIDS is growing faster than anywhere else amongst the young, gifted and mostly black. A young university student talks about how her promising life has been shattered by contracting AIDS after her first affair - with a doctor. The programme takes the viewer through her story and her personal sacrifice, illustrating what it means to lose someone of great potential to a country undergoing transformation.

The military is a professional class where the incidence of AIDS is so high as to be a serious security threat to the country. As for the worker class, this is best represented by the crisis amongst truck drivers. In a country where 82 percent of all people and goods move by truck, the highest infection rates of HIV/AIDS are along the southern African trucking routes, especially among prostitutes.

AIDS is not an exclusively black disease in South Africa and the most unexpected victim in 'Deadly Consequences' is a middle class white woman whose husband was a businessman. Her story reflects how, regardless of colour, AIDS is tearing at the fabric of society's most important traditional units: the family.

In urban areas the fastest growing infected segment of the population are young women, where as many as 60 per cent of 25 year-olds can be HIV-positive. These are the future 'Mothers of the Nation' but where will the nation be if the are no mothers to give birth to it? Orphans already number tens of thousands in a country with limited orphanage facilities and it is expected to go up to half million in the next two years, with short life expectancies of those in their care.

'Deadly Consequences' tries to find hope for South Africa and speculates on the chances for the African Century, given the enormity of the AIDS problem, the delayed responses to it, the meagre resources, and the relentless poverty enveloping the whole. South Africa's future is potentially being held hostage by a killer without a cure, a killer with deadly consequences.

Genre: Documentary