Today my BFF presented me a pair of longjohns. Nice ones. "Chill Chasers" by Cuddle Duds. She got them on a deep sale at our local Peebles. They're cottony on the inside and kind of polysatin on the outside so clothes fit smoothly over them. They are super comfortable and warm without overheating and almost reach my ankles (with a 34" inseam you get to expecting shorties). I really like them.
Because I have gotten labor conscious over the years, I looked to see where they were made. It's always a nice surprise when anything's made in the US but of course these weren't. They were made in Lesotho. Lesotho? Never heard of it. So I went to trusty Wikipedia, source of some truths. Generally, they don't have much BS when it comes to dry subjects like countries. And I see that Lesotho is a little constitutional monarchy surrounded by South Africa. It's had a troubled past but recently has gained some ground. Most of its people are literate, despite there being no obligatory schooling, their chief products are water (it's mountainous), diamonds (two rather famous huge diamonds in particular) and garments. They do have a child labor issue and the country is in the process of formulating an Action Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (APEC). Not bad for a struggling country in subsaharan Africa.
Then I read on. Lesotho is one of the African nations with a huge HIV/AIDS epidemic. 50% of women under 40 in the urban areas are infected and the general population rate is 23%. Estimated lifespan is 48 years for men and 56 for women. According to the CIA's World Fact Book, the average life expectancy is 41.18 for men and 39.54 for women. The government has started a proactive program called "Know your status" to test everyone in the country who wants to be tested for HIV. The program is funded by the Clinton Foundation and started in June 2006. Bill Clinton and Bill Gates visited Lesotho in July 2006 to assess its fight against AIDS. The Apparel Lesotho Alliance to Fight AIDS (ALAFA) is an industry-wide program providing prevention and treatment, including ARVs (anti-retro-virals) when these are necessary, for the 46,000 mainly women workers in the Lesotho apparel industry. It was launched in May 2006. The program is helping to combat two of the key drivers of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: poverty and gender inequality. Surveys within the industry by ALAFA show that 43% of employers have HIV. There are 5 physicians per 100,000 persons in Lesotho. Which would translate to about 30 doctors in the whole of my state.
I saw the AIDS epidemic in NYC in the 80s. I held a lot of bony hands and saw the young and healthy become old and terminally sick in a matter of weeks. Everybody went bald, turned blue, then died.
Though I love my new long johns, I'll always be wondering if the person who stitched them together is still alive.
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