December 01, 2011

Visible Hope: World AIDS Day

My first experiences with HIV/AIDS came through personal encounters with relatives and friends who were diagnosed. More experiences came while I was volunteering in a community hospital Emergency Department where there were a few patient cases to learn about the opportunistic infections, treatment and survival. I also came to know more about the isolation, stigma, shame and emotional pain further complicating HIV/AIDS.

While working with projects in South Africa where people were shedding apartheid for reconciliation’s embrace there was also the emergence of HIV/AIDS.  I remember times of powerful sharing and connection with women in communities of faith as well as in other settings. I listened to their stories.

A few years later. My very first academic writing accepted for publication was a narrative analysis of HIV/AIDS and Women motivated by a course in community health. In this chapter, I examined individual behaviors, political will and social inequalities contributing to HIV/AIDS risk among women in the United States, Caribbean, South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Through reading, research and writing I came to understand more about biological, socioeconomic and political pathogens in fight against in HIV/AIDS.

In this fight leadership has made all the difference.  From the United States to Uganda and throughout the world the global health community offers models for moving collaborative action in the fight against illness and disease.

The One and RED campaigns collaborate for the ONE & (RED)’s World AIDS Day event and the End of AIDS report show evidence of progress, on-going commitment and hope for the future.  PEPFAR is working toward an AIDS free generation. The Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR) is focused on “getting to zero” with the NIH Center for AIDS research advancing science and medicine for new promising approaches in treatments and prevention including vaccine development. Treatment as prevention holds promise in reducing HIV transmission with antiretroviral treatment furthering the push to have everyone get tested, a challenge for primary care and public health.  

We can all finds ways to work for the end of HIV/AIDS by employing our resources (time, expertise and/or donations) whether in your work, family, community or the world. 

You should also tell your personal and/or professional story about HIV/AIDS the statistics indicate that the pandemic has touched most of our lives as patient, health professional, caregiver, family, friend or supporter. Current global and national statistics support the understanding that most us of have been touched by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, yet many remain silent. I’ve listened to doctors and nurses offer meaningful tellings of their encounters with HIV/AIDS from needle sticks to palliative care experiences.

Final note, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s “Sometimes I Cry” offers creativity in HIV/AIDS advocacy and Dr. Sharon Allison Ottey’s book All I Ever Did Was Love A Man is a compelling story for reading groups and/or community discussion on HIV/AIDS.  Here’s a shortlist of other works to consider:
  • Ashe, Arthur and Rampersad, Arnold. Days of Grace: A Memoir. New York: Random House, 1994. 
  • Bayer, Ronald. & Oppenheimer, Gerald M. 2000 AIDS Doctors: Voices from the  Epidemic: An Oral History. New York:  Oxford Univerisity Press, 2000. 
  • Corea, Gena. The Story of Women and AIDS: The Invisible Epidemic. New York: HarperPerennial, 1993. 
  • Klass, Perri. "Hers; Mothers With AIDS: A Love Story". New York Times. 1990. 
  • Verghese, Abraham. My Own Country.  New York: Vintage, 1994. 
  • Young, Audrey. What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student's Journey. Seattle: Sasquatch, 2007.


Reference

Ellington, Katherine. ‘Invisible Hope: HIV/AIDS and Women’ in ed. Grace Bantebya-Kyomuhendo. Women’s Health: African and Global Perspectives. Kampala: Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University, 2005.



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