Health

In India, HIV history repeats itself

By Sharon Ekambaram Recently, Mumbai Aids activists took to the streets protesting the Indian government’s failure to protect people living with HIV from discrimination. More than 20 years after South African activists took up the same fight at home, the protests are a stark reminder that the battle for equality, dignity and access to life-saving…

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Urban circumcision, it’s not a bad thing

By Phozisa Mkele Every year there are fatalities of young boys in illegal initiation schools. This traditional practice is treated by some as a money-making scheme. With deaths and botched circumcisions on the rise, parents are opting for other alternatives. One such option that has become common in urban areas is having the circumcision undertaken…

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Impossible science: Zombie DNA and how you’re safer in a city

Whenever something goes wrong in my daily Johannesburg life, my mother — who I misguidedly call for words of comfort and solace — tells me that that’s what I get for “living in a place of wickedness”. (She harbours not-so-secret hopes of getting me to move to her bucolic paradise in deepest darkest Eastern Cape.)…

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Has Mandela’s medical treatment created a bad precedent?

If Madiba is recovering in a manner consistent with the public announcements of being able to go home “soon” I will be the first to admit that my expectation that his days were severely numbered was wrong, and be very pleased that I was. Because it really did not sound good. Being “critical but stable”…

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The healing power of ice cream

  (This guy is a hero in my opinion. We could all learn from him.)   The phone conversation, as my dad, in the bed next door, recalls it, went something like this. “Hello?” “Hi, is this Jim? Where are you?” “No, it’s not Jim. I’m John, and I’m in hospital.” “Oh sorry, John, I…

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Dan Brown’s Inferno: This might be fiction, but it’s a wake-up call

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” (Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321) With this epigraph from Dante, Dan Brown begins his recently published novel, Inferno, which deliberately takes its name from one of the three parts of Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century masterpiece, The Divine Comedy. It is…

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Dear Evolution, thank you for oestrogen

Women, thank your lucky stars for oestrogen. There has historically been a perception that women handle stress and general panic better than men, but new research from the University of Buffalo now proves it and points to a reason. According to the animal study published in Molecular Psychiatry on July 9, it’s all thanks to…

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The trouble with Dr Google

Things have been a bit tough of late, the bad economy is starting to bite, and you’re feeling the pressure. To top it all, your body has been acting strangely in ways it never has before. Your muscles twitch in funny areas for hours at a time, you tire easily, and you have fleeting pins…

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Deadly circumcision and initiation practices should be outlawed

Nelson Mandela in his autobiography The Long Walk to Freedom recounts his childhood experience during this rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. He writes: “When I was sixteen, the regent decided that it was time that I became a man. In Xhosa tradition, this is achieved through one means only: circumcision. In my tradition,…

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Life support

The doctor turns to me and says you need to think about what you are going to do if he needs to go on a respirator. I do not understand. I ask. He says if he turns for the worse and needs to go on a respirator what will you do? I say why are…

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