Saturday, July 14, 2007

Breaking the Stigma of HIV/AIDS

I'm so proud of the Tanzanian president, Mr. Kikwete, and his wife who were publicly tested for HIV/AIDS today in Dar es Salaam. Many other leaders joined them in this effort to break the stigma against the disease and launch a new initiative that helps members of the public gather their courage and get tested.

There are terrible biases against those with AIDS and people who struggle against it are often left to struggle alone. Our summer team delivered food to shut-in AIDS patients this week and heard first-hand the stories of how they are shunned by their communities. This new campaign hopes to raise public awareness and break the holds of fear and shame that keep people from a) being tested and b) caring for those who already have it.

The shame based fear that terrorizes the continent has led to many battles being lost in the huge war against this ferocious disease. Where many leaders have gone into major denial from the beginning, (and shockingly even up to today) President Kikwete raises the standard and encourages the nation to face this head on, together.

I love when there is good news in Africa!


Sue said...

Fabulous! Presidents need to get down and dirty with reality of their people and the lives they live and die! Please continue to share and enlighten us what Tanzania is doing right!!

Dore' said...

Right on, Mr. Kikwete! Talk about leading by example.
Thanks for letting us know.

Carrie said...

I haven't popped in for quite some time, and this is definitely a pop-in-worthy topic! Africa makes my heart warm, even when most of the news is not good. When there is good news, it makes me feel a bit proud.

On a couple other entries: 1-your new home looks wonderful and I'm glad it's becoming homey. 2-I had a quick twinge of jealousy over the Zanzibar trip. 3-Plastic bags are from hades. I love the purses crocheted from plastic bags, though. 4-Ahhhh...chai time. How I would love a hot enamel-ware, tacky floral mug with a good Maasai chat. Maybe we'll lead a team from our church to TZ sometime. I don't know if those are in the proper order, but I think you'll know what I mean.

Hugs and blessings to all of you!

Anonymous said...

Facing the Challenges of HIV/AIDS

Around the world, more than 47 million people are now infected with the HIV/AIDS, It is now a weapon of mankind destruction. It has killed more than 30 million people worldwide according to UNAID and WHO reports since the 1st of December 1981 when it was first recognized. This makes it the worst recorded pandemic in the history of pandemics against mankind. In 2006 alone, it was reported to have killed between 2.5 to 3.5 million people with more than 380000 as children. The large number of these people killed is from the sub Saharan Africa. In some Sub-Saharan African countries, HIV/AIDS is expected to lower life expectancy by as much as 25 years.

AIDS is no longer a problem of medication. It is a problem of development. It is not just an individual hardship. It also threatens to decimate the future prospects of poor countries, wiping away years of hard-won improvements in development indicators. As a result of the disease, many poor countries are witnessing a worsening in child survival rates, reduced life expectancy, crumbling and over-burdened health care systems, the breakdown of family structures and the decimation of a generation in the prime of their working lives.

Bangladesh's socio-economic status, traditional social ills, cultural myths on sex and sexuality and a huge population of marginalised people make it extremely vulnerable to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Everyone buying sex in Bangladesh is having unprotected sex some of the time, and a large majority don’t use condoms most of the time. Behaviors that bring the highest risk of infection in Bangladesh are unprotected sex between sex workers and their clients, needle sharing and unprotected sex between men.

Though the country overall has a low prevalence rate, it has reported concentrated epidemics among vulnerable population such as IDUs. There are already localized epidemics within vulnerable groups in, and the virus would spread among the IDUs’ family or sexual partner. According to the social development specialist and AIDS researcher Mohammad Khairul Alam, “It should be realized that there is no alternative to develop and enhance life skills of vulnerable girls and women to cope with epidemic. They may be assisted on the various levels to become engaged in grooming their confidence and organized. At the same time, their voices should be allowed to be heard loud and clear. Thus the collective effort of women is born with the sense or purpose that they will be stirred up to share perceptions improving their access to reproductive health related information and services.”

In many poor countries, commercial female sex workers are frequently exposed to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs). Where sex workers have poor access to health care and HIV prevention services, HIV prevalence can be as high as 50-90%. Evidence shows that targeted prevention interventions in sex work settings can turn the pandemic around.

Bangladesh is a high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly among commercial sex workers; there are available injection drug users and sex workers all over the country, low condom use in the general population. Considering the high prevalence of HIV risk factors among the Bangladeshi population, HIV prevention research is particularly important for Bangladesh. It is very awful, several organization in Bangladesh are working only to prevent HIV/AIDS but few of them like as ‘Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation’ try to develop proper strategic plane, so should increase research based organization recently.

Poverty in Bangladesh is a deeply entrenched and complex phenomenon. Sequentially, the HIV/AIDS epidemic amplifies and become deeper poverty by its serious economic impact on individuals, households and different sectors of the economy. Poverty is the reason why messages of prevention and control do not make an impact on a vast majority of the vulnerable population.

Sources: World Bank, UNAIDS, UNICEF.

Kh. Zahir Hossain
M & E Specialist (BWSPP)
The World Bank
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Mobile: 01711453171