Σάββατο, 29 Νοεμβρίου 2008

HIV / AIDS / SIDA it is not a game


not a game, originally uploaded by Esther_G.

a little over one month ago I accompanied an HIV/AIDS medical mission to Belize. until this trip I had never knowingly met a person infected with the virus or otherwise. it was always something you read about or hear about, but never have to confront. that's part of the problem. you can never get it, so why should you ever get tested? why bother with a condom?
belize has the highest incidence per capita of HIV in central america -- at about 3% (that's only of the people who actually got tested). doesn't sound like much? think of that as 3 people out of 100 that you know.
(In America, adult HIV prevalence rate is estimated to be around 0.6%)

On this trip, i met lots of infected children. one who was infected by a bad blood transfusion she had gotten to treat her sickle cell anemia. i went to a prison where a man was completely wasted, in a tiny prison cell, the smell was overpowering, he was being tended to by inmates. i was told he'd be dead in a matter of days--his blank, unblinking eyes and skeletal frame and lack of medical care verified this. i went to a catholic mission house that provided day care for infected children. moms could drop their kids off and there they would receive 2 meals, a bath, and a lot of play time. one child was abandoned by his mother once she found out he was infected, his father was abusive, his step-mother was abusive, his head was slammed against a wall and he suffered brain damage. those kids were so full of life. and if everyone infected could get the best meds, the ones that a lot of people in america are blessed to be able to use, then they could continue to be vibrant little lights and would not end up in a hospital alone like this woman.

get tested. remove stigmas. learn more (i never knew an infected mother could pass HIV/AIDS to her uninfected child through breast milk). wear a condom. use clean needles. be compassionate. talk. it doesn't just happen to other people.

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