Tuesday, June 7, 2011

30 years of HIV, AIDS

One of those days.

In-tray full. Out tray empty. And, I just cannot bring myself to do any damn little thing. So, I stare at the in tray, and the mountain gets higher, and higher, in my mind....

I know. The problem is that somehow, I had forgotten to mind myself. So, I have to take the time off. And do a bit of introspection, and looking around, and see what has been happening in the 'other' world.

Going thru the news, I cannot escape the 30 year anniversary of AIDS. Of HIV.

Yes, of course I do know its significance for the gay community. But, there is more to HIV than the gay community. This CNN opinion piece reminded me of the realities of our very unequal world. As I swim through life, I do appreciate how blessed as I am, compared to other people. But, the mother with child who stopped me yesterday on the streets of Kampala, begging for 'transport' home..., and I declined.... we swim through this need, and, we become blind, for the apparently more pressing urgency of our problems.

Yes. The world is so big, and so small.

I will never forget the day a beggar stopped me on the streets of Washington DC. I looked at the guy, and wanted to say, I come from Kampala, Uganda, and you are begging for a 'quarter' from me?!!!

Yeah, we just fail to see others pain.

But, in the story of AIDS are somethings, success stories which are eye catching, and teach that something can be done. Indeed, something can be done even when things are tough. Here is the meteoric blazing story of Brazil and AIDS. Gosh, I am floured!

Guess, the real story there is that it is not the abundance of money, of resources which will control the problem. Any real problem. And, we, as humans, stumble at the most cruel of our infirmities. Our will. Our will to accomplish that which we can, are able, and are supremely capable of achieving. Gosh, yes, Brazil is the real success story. Not stupid Uganda. Not the over politicised success that Uganda was, and then stumbled, thinking that the ideology of religion could beat hard science, and the ideology of politics.....

Gosh. OK, deep breath in, and out, in, and out, in, and out.

And, fittingly, here is news from South Africa. I think, of all countries in Africa, SA should have been the one to emulate the example of Brazil. Disaster struck when President Mbeki was suckered into the AIDS Denialist camp. And, now, the country hosts one of the fastest growing epidemics. Here is some expert commentary.

the world has "a much fuller toolkit to deal with HIV prevention than a year ago", according to Professor Salim Abdool Karim. Abdool Karim, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, was addressing a meeting of top scientists at a meeting of the Centre for the AIDS programme of Research in SA (Caprisa) in Durban yesterday.

Professor Abdool Karim said five recent research results had the potential to transform HIV/AIDS prevention if they could be translated into policy.
In the latest trial of couples where one partner was HIV positive and the other negative, if the HIV positive partner was on antiretroviral medication, their partner was protected from infection by a massive 96 percent.
Male circumcision offered 54 percent protection from HIV, while a study of gay men found that an ARV called Truvada taken before sex could prevent HIV by 44 percent.
A trial in Tanzania found that if sexually transmitted infections were treated, this reduced HIV transmission by 42 percent.
Finally, a year ago Caprisa found that a vaginal gel containing the ARV tenofovir could reduce HIV infection by 39 percent.
"How do we go forward to actually change the course of the epidemic at a community level, using these results?"

Indeed, the news is not so bad, after all. Human resilience is a factor that we always have to consider.

How do these ground breaking efforts become translated into Health? No, it is not the money alone. It is the will to be more than just the money. And, yes, we do have it.


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