Friday, November 30, 2007

Do we really need more awareness? – WORLD AIDS DAY tomorrow

That’s the question a friend put forward to me when I sent round the invite to 46664 a month or so ago. And he has an excellent point. Who in this world does not know about HIV after its 25 year presence in the world?

Yeah, but…

…do you know your current status?
…have you changed your behaviour & attitudes accordingly?
…do you know where to access free counselling, support, and treatment? And legitimate information?
…are you perpetuating stigma & discrimination or helping to fight it?
…do you think you are immune from the virus because of your age, race, income group, social circles, gender or whatever it is?

For some crazy reasons, a disease that can and is infecting and affecting anyone has taken on enormous social and political facets. And that’s what we have to manipulate, rework and slowly break down. And it shockingly and despondently is not easy.

Especially in South Africa, where our president continues to be an AIDS dissident.

Right when we are so desperate for political commitment and power against HIV’s and AIDS’ existence. That we need our government ministries doing all they can to fight back; to build hospitals that are properly supplied and staffed and accessible, train doctors and nurses, ensure teachers & policemen are healthy and present, the carers visiting homes are themselves cared for, that our children are getting to school rather then being forced to prostitute themselves to care for their younger siblings.

When our scientists need encouragement to find new improved types of ARVs or microbocides, or better yet, a vaccine to the type of HIV in Southern Africa. Not to be told they are trying to poison people and are looking in the wrong place. South African economics needs to be preparing for the shake ups and caverns that this disease is/ will be causing our country.

We need national public health initiatives that are not completely undermined every few months, when a top man opens his mouth about showering, or condoms are found to be part of corruption practices and so are now faulty and recalled.

One day I am so impressed with initiatives I see & hear about. Other days I feel so despondent and am ready to pack it all in for a new life in a new world. But hey, as they say, one step and one person at a time.

So I am imploring you, just you, to get tested, to know your status and manage it accordingly. That’s it. That’s all that has to be done for 2007 World AIDS Day. Well, other than you encouraging at least one other person to get tested…

But now, enough babble, have some HIV info: (And here is more, from last year's World AIDS Day, if you are looking for more to read)

Number of People Living With HIV (PLWHA): 33.2 million people (risen)
Of these, 2.5 million are children
People Newly Infected in 2007: 2.5 million people
Of these, 420 000 are children
Number of people who dies from AIDS-related illnesses: 2.1 million people
Of these, 330 000 are children

Number of People Living With HIV (PLWHA):
22.5 million people
Of these, 2.2 million are children
People Newly Infected in 2007: 1.7 million people
Of these, 370 000 are children
Number of people who dies from AIDS-related illnesses: 1.6 million people
Of these, 290 000 are children
from UNAIDS 2007 HIV and AIDS Estimates.
[Children= people less than 15 years of age]

*The South African government currently estimates about 5,5-million of the country's 48-million people are living with HIV.

*Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most affected region, with Southern Africa as the worst-affected, “national adult HIV prevalence exceeded 15% in eight Southern African countries in 2005”. *South Africa is the country in the world with the most HIV infections.

*Unlike other regions, the majority of people (61%) living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women.

*Several countries in Southern, East and West Africa adult HIV prevalence are showing signs of being stable or have started to decline. The latter trend is most evident in Kenya and Zimbabwe, and signs of declining HIV prevalence are also being seen in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and urban Burkina Faso. In these countries there is also evidence of a shift towards safer behaviour.

*Within North American AND Western and Central Europe, approximately 2.1 million people are living with HIV in 2007. UNAIDS attributes widespread access to effective antiretroviral treatment as being why the number of AIDS-related deaths in this region has remained comparatively low.

Fascinating slide show of HIV and AIDS estimates by region

*AIDS is the final stage of HIV; it is not to be used interchangeably with the term ‘HIV’.
The HI Virus infects a person’s CD4 cells, those cells that are the most important in a person’s immune system, and HIV uses these cells to manufacture more HIV. HIV can lie hidden for many years, depending on how healthy the person’s body is, but will eventually take over a person’s immune system and cause their death.

Why is this difference important to note?
An HIV+ person in the initial stages of the disease can live a normal life in almost every way. When the person progresses to AIDS, s/he becomes more reliant on people to care for him/her & on the health system. A person will die of opportunistic infection during this final HIV+ stage, AIDS.

Transmission occurs when the blood/bodily fluids of an infected person enters into the bloodstream of another person:
*Unprotected penetrative vaginal or anal sexual intercourse
*HIV-infected blood passing directly into the body of another person
Unofficial blood transfusions and blood products, injecting drug users, blood-contaminated needles, syringes, razor blades, other sharp objects
*Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) – either during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
This can be prevented through medication during pregnancy/ childbirth and through proper feeding methods. If a HIV+ mother chooses to breastfeed her baby she must feed her baby only breast milk for the 1st six months, and then stop breastfeeding completely at the end of this period.


* The best means to fight HIV is to KNOW YOUR STATUS!, and to work from there – you can be tested at a clinic, at your doctor, at a VCT site. To find out where your closest VCT clinic is, to receive a free 30-minute test, which includes counselling, please contact the AIDS HELPLINE (0800 012 322) or your closest clinic.

You can also phone the National HIV/AIDS Service Delivery Helpline - HIV911:
0860 HIV911 / 0860 448 911, or email them at
Their database covers all of SA and people can call in to get info on HIV/AIDS service providers in their area.

*List of some VCT sites across the country.

See you at 46664.

Stay safe.


Patchwork said...

You know how the tickets of the Rage for the Revolution were only available to those who submitted to an HIV test. In my bid to do my bit for the Each 1 Reach 5 initiative, I rounded up some friends I hadn't talked and terrified into a test and took them to a mobile testing centre set up at the Rosebank Mall. Turns out one of the guys there is a friend of mine, he is involved in the organization of the entire shebang.

We air kiss and I say, I've brought you some numbers, where are my tickets? Let's get testing.

and he responds thus, "Ag man, we've just being giving people brochures and letting have the tickets for free. Many people just freak out and leave, and we cannot risk an empty venue."

I was so angry I could have cried. Needless to say, when my friends heard this, they said, hurrah and it took all sorts of threats to get them to keep their word. For some unknown reason, ignorance seems to be still bliss.

Champagne Heathen said...

Great for you for trying!!

And yeah, we can talk till we're blue in the face, more and more money can be poured into this game, and still we all seem to believe it's not gonna happen to us!

Ruby said...

vrek! i just wish people would wake up and smell the coffee. They def believe they'll never get it...and those who have it believes that its not that serious....its a vicious and very very evil cycle.

It doesn't help that our high people make stupid and uninformed comments in public(as you mentioned). OUr countrymen seem to have a sheep mentality and just believe whatever is said to them...there goes years of hard work trying to make people aware of what needs to be done...makes me angry!

Champagne Heathen said...

Rubes - the problem in a country of so many voices and views, cultures, religions, etc, is who to listen to. You tend to find a group/ public individual to respect, so the problem comes in when that individual makes misguided comments - that whole group of people believes him/her cause they have to trust & respect him/ her. We all do it - which is why we must read up & listen to as many sources as possible, and keeping questioning & investigating.

RB said...

See my site

RB said...

Err, cough, ummm sorry - see my site at:

Anonymous said...

Excellent points Champers. I'll be linking to this, when I get a mo.

Thank you!

Champagne Heathen said...

Thanks Robs!! A very sweet article of yours there indeed!

Dolce - I am looking forward to it...