Stories: Health

  • In Rural India, MIT Grads Aim to Improve Access to Sanitary Pads for Women

    DUMANDIH, India — Anita Kumari was scared and apprehensive when, at age 13, she first started her period. Though she'd learned about menstruation at her school in rural eastern India, she didn't fully understand what was happening to her body. But her mother calmed her nerves and gave her a cloth to use to absorb the blood. Like the...

  • South Africa’s plan to tackle HIV among sex workers

    Johannesburg, South Africa - In the shadow of an underpass, wearing a black bob wig, Tlaleng paces along her patch of Nugget Street, scanning the downtown Johannesburg traffic. Behind her, other women lead clients behind the crumbling walls of a gutted building in the brisk morning light. But Tlaleng, a boiled egg in one palm, is distracted, her eyes roaming...

  • ‘It’s not safe’: South Africans fear using public toilets after woman murdered

    * Warning: Some details in this story are disturbing.* In Khayelitsha, a township just outside Cape Town, South Africa, community activists amping up their efforts to get safe, private toilets after a 19-year-old woman was murdered on her way to a public bathroom. It's a story that is told in the documentary, When She Didn't Come Back, in which...

  • There’s a Message for City Planners in Cape Town Plumbing Poll

    A mother and father stand in the doorway of their Khayelitsha home, looking on as their two young children goof around on the small patch of dirt outside. It’s something like a front yard, only that — flanked on one side by the family’s corrugated tin shack and on the other by a public portable toilet...

  • Condom Couture and Other Ways to Fight AIDS With Art

    After 20 years of doing “condom couture,” Adriana Bertini knows she can make a dress out of old condoms in about 50 hours. But after years of carting bags packed with condom collectibles – including a wedding dress made from 80,000 sheaths – around the world, the Brazilian designer never knows how long it will take to get through the airport. ...

  • For One woman, Working on an Ebola Burial Team Cracked Her Life Open

    At the height of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, the rumors came fast and furious: The government was injecting patients with Ebola to shake more aid money out of the West; the best way to prevent Ebola was to drink salt water – gallons of it – or maybe bleach; the disease could be cured by onions, exorcisms, condensed...

  • Pregnant and Diagnosed with HIV: The Group Providing Support for Mothers

    Thirteen years ago, when Babalwa Mbono was eight months pregnant with her second child, she went to her clinic in Cape Town, South Africa, to have a routine HIV test. “I went with confidence because my first child was negative and I was negative then,” she says. When the test came back positive, Mbono couldn’t...

  • Fighting the Scourge of Xenophobia in South Africa

    It is death by a thousand cuts – the small injustices that add up, one after another. It’s the cruel nurse, the rude admitting staff, the names called out of a passing car. For the thousands of African refugees living in South Africa, it’s a fact of life. It’s hard to describe South...

  • In South Africa, HIV Prevention Starts With Sex Workers

    A condom or a coffin. That is the real choice a woman faces when she decides between a man paying 40 to 400 South African rand (around $3 to $30) for sex while wearing a condom, and one paying 1,000 to 1,500 rand (around $75 to $110) for unprotected sex, explains sex worker Emily. In the city of Durban, where 53 percent of sex workers have HIV, peer...

  • Stigma ‘Killing’ South Africans Living with HIV

    Tania has to shout to be heard over music blasting out of a brothel in downtown Durban, South Africa, where dozens of sex workers slouch in chairs under the red glow of the bar or lean against walls as they wait for clients. Dressed in a tight top and trousers, the 42-year-old looks younger than her age. Sex work is...