RUN FOR YOUR LIFE

Some of us run around all day long, often with a lot of self-importance but little purpose. Some run for their life. Literally.

I wrote before about the South African NGO my best friend works for, Positive Heroes –positiveheroes.org.za – whose focus is aimed at removing the stigma of HIV in a country where AIDS is still too often a death sentence, and at helping people understand that, with a proper and constant regimen of medications, it is possible to live a normal life. But two items made me think about it again. First, the news was all over the grim 30th anniversary of the discovery of HIV/AIDS – the spin was on how much has been accomplished and how HIV has moved from being certain death to chronic disease. Well, in this country at least. In the same week, a panel of experts on KCRW were discussing donor fatigue and how Western countries are getting tired of paying for somewhat costly medications to keep people alive in sub Saharan Africa.

But, before even connecting sick people to the pills that are going to save them, the first step is getting them to understand that life with HIV is worth living, that it’s not shameful and I admire those who have come forward, publicly, black and white and who, to publicize and impress upon others what can be achieved, run marathons, helped by Positive Heroes. How many of us still remember when we weren’t sure whether it was ok to kiss, shake hands, share a glass of water with an infected person? In the US, we take for granted that HIV is just another medical condition and using condoms has become a no brainer, part of high school curricula. Not so in countries where literacy is low, where women are often subjugated to the will of men, where clinics in rural areas are few and far between and often cannot afford to carry the drugs, where explaining and hoping that patients will follow a strict regimen of pills taking still hover between a wing and a prayer.

The video here attached moved me because it underlines the divide between rich and poor countries or, in the case of South Africa, a wealthy country, with inequalities that are still overwhelming. There are still places where finding the voice to say “I am HIV positive and I can do this” is still a superhuman effort. How many of us, healthy ones, could even run a marathon?

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1 Comment

Filed under south africa

One response to “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE

  1. sue

    Your post really captures the situation. Some interesting stats:
    33 million have died of AIDS related illnesses in 30 years
    30 million people are currently infected with HIV, around half of them don’t know that they are – as they have never tested.
    16 million children have been orphaned by AIDS related illnesses
    7000 people are newly infected every day – the majority of them in Sub Saharan Africa, The Caribbean is the next fastest growing infected population.
    Washington,DC is recording extremely high rates of infection – (esp within the Beltway)
    in part due to gay sex on the ‘downlow’ (married/straight acting men who have sex with men), in part due to a belief among young gay men that HIV has been bested, or that if you catch it taking ARVs for the rest of your life are easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy (they aren’t), and partly from the renewed interest in mainlining heroin. All this is coming to a city near you soon…

    On the good news side – SA has all but eradicated Mother to Child transmission of HIV. Through a simple series of medical interventions – a child born to an HIV+ mother can live life HIV free. Until they have to make their own choices ….. condoms still remain an anathema to most SA men. Using a rubber, could stop this disease in it’s tracks. But, as you say, the women often have no sway in the matter.

    There’s no quick fix and we aren’t there yet. Managing your status – whether positive or negative is a marathon. And looks to be that way for the longrun. Thanks for lending us your voice.
    S

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