As the cane grew, the people followed - pickers from the west, executives from Mauritius and South Africa, European funders and African lorry drivers. "I've stopped now but it was just the total poverty. We just had no money to pay the house rental," said Beauty, a 34-year-old former sex worker who now sells sausages.
"I'm a different women now." Beauty is not the only one to change.
Testing for the HIV virus is up, knowledge has increased and, most importantly, drugs are available to control the spread of the virus and stop it developing into AIDS.
"The doctors knew, of course, but there was nothing they could do ...
Every day, you'd pass the graveyard and see people moaning, wailing - yet another funeral." The roadside graveyard adjoins the hospital - a crowded field of makeshift memorials and formal headstones, trees arching over red-earth mounds that mark the many dead.
Hand-scrawled signs point to an agony of lost babies: "beloved daughter Gladsy Mainza" aged two; nearby lies Tia Jonga, who died on Nov. "In our hospital setup, every bed space was taken by someone with HIV.
In the mortuary, every day, two, three dead bodies," Stephen Shajanika, Mazabuka's District Health Commissioner, recalled in an interview.
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Part of this is due to campaigns like the one run by DAPP, a local NGO that invented a seemingly simple strategy to secure a military-style "Total Control of the Epidemic".