By Nancy Harris

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I think that would be too much pressure on him,” he said. ” AI AIDS/Dev. Countries INT 5/9/03 1:19 PM Page 33 8 A Deadly Passage to India Geoffrey Cowley Geoffrey Cowley is a senior editor of Newsweek and works as the magazine’s health-and-medicine editor. Cowley has produced groundbreaking stories on AIDS and other health issues, and his articles, including his 1990 piece entitled “AIDS: The Next Ten Years,” have won numerous awards as well as prompted government action. By the year 2010, India will have twenty to twenty-five million people infected with AIDS.

But at every level of Indian society, one sees hints that change is possible. Pattamal may live humbly, but she learned about HIV in time to avoid contracting it herself. She has used condoms consistently for the past five years. As an educator for Santoshi, she now distributes them to her clients and her peers. In a benevolent pyramid scheme, she then enlists them to do the same. Similar programs have sprouted in most of India’s red-light districts in recent years, and some have shown dramatic results.

Countries INT 30 5/9/03 1:19 PM Page 30 At Issue admitting it faces an AIDS epidemic, China convened its first national conference on AIDS and filmed a celebrity-studded television special to support AIDS sufferers. These were breakthroughs for a government that for years has all but ignored the disease. But something was missing from both events—people with HIV or AIDS. Only a few were allowed to appear. Their absence highlights the political nature of the AIDS problem in China: The governing Communist Party wants to educate the public about a rapidly spreading disease, but is afraid of what might happen if people with HIV are permitted to speak freely and criticize the government.

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