Alternate History

Slim Disease (Caroline Era)

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Slim Disease or AIDS, is the colloquial English name for Ukimwi, a tropical disease with a viral pathogen. It is primarily spread by multiple sexual contacts and via breastmilk from mothers to infants. It has achieved epidemic status in sub-Saharan Africa and although its progress can be altered by antivirals, these are not available in the area with the exception of South Africa.

Clinical features

Ukimwi is a retroviral disease. Following a latent period of a few weeks, there is a brief febrile illness with a duration of about a fortnight, involving a general malaise, headache, lymphadenopathy, arthralgia, a maculo-papular rash and sometimes encephalitis. This is followed after one or two years by recurrent opportunistic infections and various cancers, notably Kaposi's Sarcoma. There is also muscle wasting and there can be dementia. Death usually occurs in about five years. The disease is referred to as Slim Disease because of the associated emaciation.

Another common feature of the disease is scrophula.

Social Impact

Ukimwi originated in Central Africa and is most widespread there, and has now spread to all of sub-Saharan Africa. It is chiefly a disease of women and generally spreads to the children. As a result, it has caused a population crash in most African countries. The mean life expectancy in the affected countries is about twenty years. It is, however, absent from Madagascar.

A notable result of the spread of ukimwi is in South Africa, where it has resulted in a black minority. The government policy of apartheid there has led to a situation where black Africans have been denied access to medication which is freely available to the white population, which has meant a virtual disappearance of all but Caucasians there, a situation referred to as the African genocide. This term has also been used with reference to the perceived failure of the developed world to deal with the epidemic.

King Charles III has travelled to the African Commonwealth countries to practice his controversial Royal touch with some of the victims.

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