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Mini Dec 01

Mini Dec 01

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Published by: campusblue on Jan 29, 2011
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01/28/2013

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BP
      C      A      M      P      U      S
MINI ISSUE | WINTER ‘10
INSIDE:
WHERE IS
AFRICA
NOW?
HIV/AIDS, RWANDA, CONGO
 
2
MINI ISSUE | WINTER ‘10
erin
 
becker
 
editor
-
in
-
chief
 
sally
 
fry
 
creative
 
director
troy
 
homesley
,
molly
 
hrudka
,
rachel
 
myrick
,
chelsea
 
phipps
 
writers
david
 
gilmore
,
chelsea
 
phipps
 
photographers
BATTLING HIV/AIDS IN THE DEVELOPING WORLDRAPE IN THE CONGOWHEN MEDIA FUELS GENOCIDEHIV/AIDS POLICY
CAMPUS
BluePrint
3
acknowledgements
456
 
3
MINI ISSUE | WINTER ‘10
BATTLING
HIV/AIDS
in
 
the
 
devloping
 
world
BY cHelsea PHIPPs
Any single-issuesolution will not besustainable
I
t took a harrowing trekon a motorbike to getthere. I was wearing asuspicious-smelling helmetwith a skull painted on itand an oversized wind suitthat I guarantee had neverbeen washed. When I com-mitted to doing a summerof volunteering for an AIDSorganization in Masaka,Uganda, I didn’t envisiongripping the driver of a mo-torbike for dear life, whilezipping down pot-hole rid-dled, orange roads.Getting o that bike wasan incredible relief, as was pulling o the wind suit and black helmet.Paul, the driver and a counselor for The Aids Support Organization(TASO), motioned for me to leave my eects with the bike and thenwalked o wordlessly, perhaps assuming I would just follow him. Paulwas my supervisor for the duration of my time as a Foundation for Sus-tainable Development Intern working at TASO.We parked the bike on the roadside in front of a row of stores plasteredwith advertisements for Coca-Cola and cell phone service providers. Ifollowed Paul through a narrow alley betweenstores into a sloped dirt courtyard. Sheetsapped in doorways that were surrounded bywomen washing laundry in buckets with ba-bies strapped to their backs. I was greeted bythe usual stares and children’s squeals of “mu-zungu!” Paul stopped in front of one doorwayand mumbled some Luganda. A young woman peered from behind thecloth hanging before ushering us inside. She kneeled to Paul in thecustomary way that females greet males in the Buganda Kingdom.I was struck by how beautiful she was. I had expected her youthfulbeauty to be lost to the battle against AIDS that raged inside of herbody. As the counseling session began, I learned from Paul’s transla-tions that she was my age, only nineteen years old. Her story was re-markable.Her father had gotten angry when he’d learned that she was HIV-positive and had kicked her out of his home, promising that he wouldkill her if she came back. The girl was completely abandoned by herboyfriend, the one who had infected her with HIV in the rst place. Shefound a menial job that barely covered the rent for the place we sat inas we spoke.Eventually, her condition deteriorated to the point where she was di-agnosed with Acquired Immunodeciency Syndrome. The combinationof that, a CD4 count of 12 (this count of a white blood cell type in thebody should be between 500 and 1600 in a healthy person), and theopportunistic infections that she had contracted, she became so weakthat she was unable to work. Because she no longer had any income,she would soon have to relinquish her pathetically small living space.Her home only had enough room for Paul and me to squat on stoolswhile she sat across from us on the oor, with her moldy mattress padtucked behind the Spiderman sheet that acted as a curtain partitioningthe space.Going home was not an option for her. Her father had threatened herlife, and her mother held such a subordinate position in the family thatthere was nothing she could do. Her father oen prevented her motherfrom collecting food from their own garden for their family to eat be-cause he wanted to sell it in the market for personal prot. Althoughshe was able to get ARVs (antiretroviral medications) from TASO for vir-tually no cost, without food to nourish her wasted body or a place tolive, she would be unlikely to live much longer.It is possible for someone with HIV to lead a relatively normal, fullyfunctional life thanks to the increased availability of antiretroviral treat-ments. TASO is one of the largest NGOs in Africa and manages to giveout immense amounts of free drugs to the large population of HIV in-fected Ugandans. However, barriers to living a healthy life exist thatare beyond TASO’s jurisdiction. These include the stigma against thedisease that exists in full force in Uganda and oen prevents peoplefrom going to get tested; the poverty that cripples the ability of parentsto feed their children, let alone themselves;and the ignorance that leads to poor decision-making, which causes further infections.Another barrier that is preventing Ugandansfrom properly battling HIV/AIDS is the signi-cant disparity between the male and femalesituation in Ugandan culture and society.Gender roles force women into a subordinate position, which prolifer-ates the spread of HIV through common situations where men refuseto have sex with a condom, or want more kids even though they areHIV positive because it is a status symbol, or take more wives or mis-tresses despite being HIV positive.All development issues in third world countries are inescapably inter-connected. Just as women’s empowerment is essential for improvingthe health of the people of Uganda, so is health education, the allevia-tion of poverty to enable families to aord to live in adequate condi-tions and improved nutrition and water access.My sister, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chinandega, Nicaragua work-ing with AIDS issues, has also learned the necessity of a more integra-tive approach to development. As unbelievable as it sounds, a lot of children and young adults in her village have sex just because thereis nothing else to do. To prevent the transmission of HIV amongst theyouth, she promotes community development through youth danceand tness groups, health education workshops, and building a com-munity center where kids can go to in their free time to participate inmore positive and constructive activities.The developing world is plagued with a multitude of complex so-cial, political, environmental, and scal issues that require a holisticapproach if there is any hope of alleviating any of them. Because eachissue inevitably perpetuates the next, any single-issue solution will notbe sustainable.I spent the bike ride back to the TASO center contemplating the ironyof how giving life-saving drugs alone could not possibly be enough tosave the life of that beautiful young girl. •
photo by chelsea phipps

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