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Opinion Pieces Address AIDS Work Of Nelson Mandela

The following is a summary of two opinion pieces addressing the AIDS work of Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95.

  • Art Caplan, NBC News: “As the world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela, it is important to look at the one area where the iconic former president of South Africa slipped — AIDS,” Caplan, the head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, writes. “The most outstanding moral figure of our age did not do what was needed as HIV began to destroy the country he loved. But his actions after he realized his failures are an important part of his legacy,” he continues, concluding, “Our greatest ethical leaders like Mandela are never more instructive than when we learn not just from their triumphs, but also from how they recognize and respond to a mistake” (12/8).
  • Michael Halpern, Huffington Post’s “Science” blog: “It is worth reflecting on [Mandela's] ability to transcend politics when speaking about contentious scientific issues,” Halpern, a program manager with the Center for Science and Democracy, writes, adding, “Nowhere was this more apparent than in the difficult politics surrounding HIV/AIDS at the turn of the millennium.” He recounts Mandela’s closing address at the 13th International AIDS Conference that took place in Durban, South Africa, and states, “May we all learn from Nelson Mandela’s words and go beyond disagreements about science and politics to confront together the most pressing public health and environmental issues of our time” (12/6).