As my grandmother used to say, ‘There are only two families in the world, the haves and the have-nots.’ (1) (Cervantes) In the last analysis it is not so much their subjects that the great teachers teach us as it is they themselves. (2) (Frederich Buechner) If the HIV epidemic has done Africa any good, it has been to emphasise the fragile health of the continent’s peoples and the urgent need to do something about it. Currently 700-800 South Africans die daily from HIV and between 11% and 19% (approx. 5.54 million) are living with the disease. (3) This is a region where few know their status and where only 65% of South Africans sampled in a 2004 survey consented to being tested. (4) Yet being HIV-positive has significant consequences for the individual and his/her family. Wealth is lost. A 23% decline in household expenditure over a 3-year period was documented in South African homes where an AIDS death had occurred. (5) A country’s health can be jeopardised. Average life expectancy in Zimbabwe has fallen to 33.9 years. (6) South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda all have current life expectancy levels lower than in 1960, 1980 or 1990. (7) Prevention is possible. This gap can be closed. Those who know their status are less likely to transmit the virus. (8,9) Being HIV-positive frequently brings shame, fear and guilt: dealing with this for some will begin a process of coming to terms with oneself, taking responsibility–and learning to value life and health.