A warning has been sounded by top South African psychiatrist Prof. Matshepo Matoane that the country's combined TB and AIDS epidemics among black soldiers are 'having a lethal impact on its military forces'. Her warning should also be heeded by the US...
Prof Matoane's warning that AIDS/TB -infected military personnel are 'more prone to violence and vengeful behaviour,' is backed up by statistics from the World Health Organisation. This shows that 87 men per 100,000 are being killed in homicidal behaviour in South Africa, whereas the global male-homicide rate is 13.6 per 100,000.see
In fact South Africa, with some 6,1-million AIDS/TB infected people, is listed as the most violent country in the world, together with Colombia and warzones such as Iraq and the Congo. The co-epidemic is also causing a dramatic rise in violence-driven rapes by township youth gangs, suicides and family murders, with entire families being killed. Yet her warning, issued at the South African military academy in Saldanha near Cape Town, has only been published by one Afrikaans journalist, Erika Gibson of Beeld. The rest of the South African news media has ignored this warning. Also see our previous story
At the moment, some 6,1-m people are dying in a combination-epidemic of Extremely-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis and AIDS mostly (93%) among the black heterosexual population of South Africa. And her experience in dealing with such patients at military hospitals has shown that such patients often are very vengeful. Combined with military (or indeed police) weaponry, this combination could be extremely dangerous for all of society, she warned.
Black Americans more prone to African AIDS strains
Dr Matoane's warnings could also highlight a growing problem in the United States, which according to the Centres for Disease Control, black Americans accounted for 49% of all the new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 2006, despite making up only 13% of the population. Also see
Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute said nearly 600,000 African-Americans are now infected with HIV-AIDS and up to 30,000 new cases are diagnosed among African-Americans each year.
"This is a different AIDS-strain, as the death rate of African-Americans is two and a half times that of HIV-infected whites,' the CDC report said.
The growing infection rate among African-Americans is also creating increased resentment among this U.S. minority of the lavish funding which goes to Africa for treating HIV-AIDS as compared to the funding received from the Federal government for their own community.
$22-m to South African AIDS-treatments in 1994
In 1994, the then-US States' military's European Command (USEUCOM) provided South Africa's newly-reformed military with a $2.2million emergency grant for HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment. That year alone, the US Department of Defense paid around $20-million to HIV/AIDS programs. The US Military also drew up a 'symptom manual' for dealing with HIV-AIDS infected soldiers in Africa: see$48-billion for fighting AIDS - half to Africa in 2008:
This programme has continued under the newly-established AFRICOM command. In July 2008, the US voted in favour of Pres. GW Bush's emergency plan for AIDS-relief in Africa, Bill HR 5501. This allocated $48-billion for fighting AIDS on a global level - with more than half of this money alllocated to combat both AIDS and Tuberculosis in African countries.
African-American lobby groups point out that more should be spent on black Americans and demand that these funds be diverted to combat the deadly syndrome inside their own community first.
Self-destructive, vengeful, dangerous mindset
Prof Matoane of UNISA university in South Africa warns that this deadly disease-combination is also causing extremely high levels of aggression among especially the male patients in South Africa.
"The SA Defence Force and the police members infected with TB and AIDS are developing an 'exceedingly self-destructive, vengeful, dangerous mindset," she warned. Such personnel often also operate extremely dangerous military and police-material, such as armed helicopters and military field guns - and this is a particularly lethal combination for their colleagues but also for the surrounding community, she warned.
"These AIDS-infected military members are becoming increasingly mutinous, dangerous and self-destructive as more and more soldiers are falling victim to the lethal combination of AIDS, often worsened by coinfection with Tuberculosis."
This problem among South African military personnel is also expected to increase: the Pretoria High Court in 2008, also issued a court order, telling the SA military that it was unconstitutional to refuse to hire any HIV-infected applicants.
This officially decision was made in the same week when Prof Matoane warned in her lecture to the military academy that HIV+TB infected soldiers are a mutinous danger to themselves, their units... and subsequently, also to the rest of the population.
Angry, vengeful, defiant soldiers
"Their easy access to dangerous military hardware makes them very dangerous," she warned.
"The very unstable and dangerous mental condition of such AIDS-infected soldiers were so angry, vengeful and defiant that this made them 'a danger to themselves and their comrades' in life or death military situations...
Defiant TB-patients coughing all over health workers:
" Doctors, nurses and health-workers in hospitals countrywide also report that XDR-TB+AIDS patients are so mutinous and angry that they are constantly coughing all over the medical staff as a form of revenge".
Although exact statistics are impossible to find, an estimated 40% of all the 55,000 SA military members are now said to infected with the AIDS-virus and are also often co-infected with drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis which are difficult to cure with main-stream antibiotics used against TB. seeMilitary objects to hiring HIV-infected recruits
Makoane's warnings also back up the public objections by the SA national army's commanding officer genl. Solly Shoke against the disastrous May 16 2008 Pretoria High Court ruling which has ordered the SA military to no longer refuse any applications by HIV-infected citizens because their constitutional rights were being abused.
Shoke's argument was that the troops 'needed to be mentally and physically fit to perform their duties, which often land them in extreme conditions.' He said that 'deploying any HIV-positive person into a hazardous situation could threaten the person's life and those of his comrades'.
See video clip:
The exact AIDS-infection rate among the SA military still remains sophisticated guess-work although campaigners for treatment such as the Treatment Action Campaign have a very good idea of the exact extent. In 2005, then-defence minister Terror Lekotha admitted to 17% to 23% of SA National Defence Force members being infected with HIV/AIDS.
And the problem is just as prevalent among the South African male prison population, see
Usually SA government officials 'understate' such statistics - but from US-SA joint research programmes through the Centres for Disease Control a more realistic statistic emerged of 40% by 2007 - that's some 22,000 military members. seeHigh absentee levels, death rates in the military due to AIDS:
Prof. Matoane warned during her lecture at Saldanha military academy that HIV-AIDS infection 'creates a tendency amongst the soldiers to mutiny, ignore authority, become very undiscliplined and stay away from work.'
AIDS affects central nervous system
And, she warned, 'in the last stages of AIDS, such soldiers can have 'very dangerous outbursts of anger' towards their colleagues which combined with easy access to military weapons, could cause fatalities.'
AIDS-infected soldiers thus also 'seriously undermine and threaten the unity of military teamwork.'
"It is shortsighted if any military superiors believe that AIDS-infected soldiers -- although looking physically-fit - could ever function well in any military context,' she warned.
"In the final stages of AIDS, the disease greatly affects the central nervous system and such an infected soldier's emotional state is one of 'extreme confusion and anger,' she pointed out.
AIDS-infected soldiers 'require the assistance and understanding of qualified personnel to avoid possibly fatal consequences for themselves and their comrades," she warned.
After the initial diagnoses of HIV-infection, 'sufferers plunge into stages of depression, trauma, anger, fear and frustration. At work even a newly-diagnosed HIV-infected person without any symptoms thus shows weakening concentration abilities, short-term memory loss and mental confusion.
"HIV-infected soldiers thus have difficulties to fit into the 'rigid and focused pattern of any military organisation's activities,' Prof Matoane said.
"In a combat-situation this could also mean that AIDS-sufferers don't have the will to fight because of their own fears. And an HIV+ soldier also finds it difficult to plan, analyse and carry out intelligence operations for his unit.
"When AIDS-sufferers reach the 'denialist stage' they all go through, they also tend to become very self-destructive and rebellious towards their commanders.Their anger outbursts lead to confrontations with commanders.
Matoane said it was 'important that the military, as an organisation, is always aware of the psychiatric effects of HIV-AIDS on the behaviour of soldiers. If they are not managed for such behaviour, such soldiers can get out of control, with fatal consequences.' Thus far, excerpts from her lecture have only been published in the Afrikaans-language news media. seeXDR-TB/AIDS patients mutiny, deliberately infect health workers:
Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop
The New York Times also reported in 2008 after a team of journalists visited the Jose Pearson TB Hospital in Port Elizabeth, South Africa that patients were very mutinous and often vengeful, willfully trying to infect nursing staff by coughing and spitting on them, for instance.
"Three fences topped with coils of razor wire keep patients infected with lethal strains of tuberculosis (extremely-drug resistant TB) from escaping," wrote the New York Times.
"But at Christmas time and again around Easter, dozens of patients cut holes in the fences, slipped through electrified wires or pushed through the gates in a desperate bid to spend the holidays with their families.
"Patients have been tracked down and forced to return. Local public health experts said overcrowding, poorly ventilated hospitals have been a driving force in spreading the disease in South Africa.
"The public would be safer if patients were treated at home, they said, with regular monitoring by health workers and contagion-control measures for the family." see
and also see