The International Carnival of Pozitivities--World AIDS Day Edition, 2006
It is a pleasure, a privilege and an honor to bring to you the sixth monthly installment and World AIDS Day edition of the International Carnival of Pozitivities (ICP). Please visit each of the sites that has contributed to this edition of the ICP and read the offerings from the various and diverse group of participants. We need your feedback, and I would like to encourage you to leave comments for the authors. It is only through a viable feedback loop that we can learn what is important to you and hear what has moved you most effectively. Above all, please take away from this project that we are striving to ease suffering for those with HIV/AIDS and we need your action, creativity and thoughtfulness to achieve that goal. Become a volunteer. Help us help ourselves and others. Help up stop the trend of increasing infection rates by talking about HIV/AIDS every day, not just on December 1.
I founded this blog carnival in June, 2006, to help fill the void of information in mainstream media and other sources about the impact of HIV/AIDS in the world. It seemed to me that all we were hearing about HIV/AIDS related to how new drug therapies were stemming the tide of deaths from this disease. In the West, we have, indeed, seen a drop in the number of AIDS deaths, but some important aspects of this story were being omitted. Side effects, cost, lack of access and medication failures were not being discussed. Neither was the impact of AIDS in the more poverty-stricken regions of the World and the lack of infrastructure for providing medication to the over 40 million people infected worldwide. Far more frightening, we have failed as a society to discuss transmission modalities in frank and honest ways. While the disease continues to spread, we avoid discussions about our true nature as sexual beings as if our shame and denial will make this disease vanish from before our eyes. Prevention of HIV/AIDS can only take place through honest and open discussion. It is in the spirit of promoting just such a dialogue that I founded the ICP. I am proud to see the project has survived its first six months and am honored by all past participants for their courage and commitment to the project. Please join us.
Voices and Heroes
A new participant in the ICP, enigma4ever of Watergate Summer presents World AIDS Day, a very powerful review of her years in healthcare when HIV/AIDS was identified and grew stronger. There are few of us left who lived through that era as patients, but we still have the gift of voice from a few of us and from those who cared for us. I thank Enigma4ever for sharing her voice with the world.
"I am an old Nurse, I was a Nursing student in the 1980's when HIV evolved into a Horrorific event. I was working as a nursing assistant on a Inner City Oncology floor , it was winter time and the End of Disco. Young Men, thin, beautiful were ending up on our floor, dying of wasting and pneumonia."
Enigma4ever also contributed one of the most touching accounts of AIDS presented from the perspective of a caregiver that I have ever read. In her piece CHINESE NEW YEAR ( An AIDS Tale Retold ), she discusses a Buddhist ritual that she performs every year at Chinese New Year. She learned about Buddhism from one of her former patients.
"I took care of AIDS patients in Seattle 1988-1998, and this was quite a feat, for a good part of those years I lived on Capital Hill near many of my patients and my neighbors. And yes, as many of my neighbors became my patients there are also were lessons to learn about boundaries that became blurry and soft."
Royce Hardin, a very close friend from Durham, North Carolina, joined my blog as a guest writer this World AIDS Day to share his experience and unique perspective on living with HIV/AIDS. Royce and I have known each other since the 1990’s, and as our disease has progressed, so has our friendship. We share our feelings and fears about HIV/AIDS on a regular basis and try to support one another as much as possible. It is important to note that we both view HIV/AIDS and its impact on our lives as double-edged swords. We are living accelerated lives, but we seek out the beauty and meaning in every detail. This entry is Royce’s first attempt at writing for others. Please join me in welcoming Royce to this forum via his article, Journey.
"Recently, I have thought a great deal about what is truly important in life and in particular the things I want to cultivate in myself as a person.
Three of the things I know that mean the most to me are: that I let my spirit guide my life, that I develop and maintain truthfulness to myself and to those I hold dear and, I hold onto the beauty and wonder of my family, friends and self."
The Dreamer of Nightmare Hall brings us Part 4 of an ongoing series, Mangled in the Medical Machine. He details the difficulties that he has encountered in finding good medical care even in one of the most enlightened areas of the United States.
"Things get especially complicated with conditions like HIV, autoimmune diseases, cancer or any other chronic illness. HIV has the added bonus of having a lot of excess baggage attached to it in the form of stigmas."
Mshairi brings a Kenyan perspective to us via World AIDS Day – 1 December 2006. She clearly points out the role of stigma and its insidious nature in her post about AIDS in Kenya, ending with a beautiful poem about her loved ones lost to the disease.
"…I can be certain about the reactions from people who knew or guessed they had died of HIV/AIDS. These would not have been different. Sadly, the stigma, exclusion and discrimination they suffered then would still be the same now because shame is still associated with people living and dying of HIV/AIDS. People are still scared of things as basic as shaking the hand and sharing a glass with someone who is HIV positive. Combine this with denial. The family of a loved one who still insist he died of heart disease then even now still insist he had died of heart disease, years after he passed away."
Sokari writes from South Africa via her blog Black Looks. She has contributed two articles this month, the first of which examines the role of homophobia, misogeny, racism and bigotry in the spread of AIDS. In Access to ARVs, she highlights the life of Buhle Msibi to make her points about why HIV/AIDS is such a huge problem in South Africa.
"Many of the reasons behind the continued spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa are constantly under public discussion. Lack of access to healthcare and ARVs; increasing poverty; lack of will by the government to invest in public health; gender based violence that results in young black women contracting HIV 'at triple the rate of young men'."
In her second installment, Sokari presents Personal Story – Living with HIV 2006, an account of the lives to two different women who are living with HIV/AIDS. Be sure to listen to the recorded message from Mpho and visit the article about Rose that is linked in the first paragraph. Rose has since revealed her real identity and the circumstances of her infection in the comment section of that article.
"Unlike Rose who has been positive for 20 years, Mpho only found out in April this year after she was raped last October. For her the journey is twofold. Coming to terms with being raped and having to see her rapist walk the streets in freedom; and beginning her journey of an HIV positive life."
Jude Nagurney Camwell, author of Iddybud Journal and next month’s gracious host of the ICP, contributed an article of remembrance about her friend Chuck. In World AIDS Day – December 1, Jude reflects on her past inexperience in knowing how to be supportive to someone dying of AIDS. Sadly for most of us, we had to learn the hard way by doing and in the process, we had to learn to face some of our greatest fears while trying to be helpful and upbeat.
"Looking back, I wish I could have been mature enough to have been an effective listener in the many times when Chuck and his mother must have needed to talk to someone confidentially. I wasn't old enough, nor was I educated enough at the time. I remember my own parents explaining it all to me. I didn't learn about HIV/AIDS from my own government. Instead, I learned it the hard way, and believe me, I realize it was a lot harder for those who had to suffer the night sweats and the never ending body pains - hardly realizing what was slowly killing them."
I am pleased to include a post from Melody of Nata Village Blog, a team effort of bloggers from a village in Botswana. Their contribution to this month’s carnival, The Courage to Live Openly with AIDS, details the life of Noreen, a woman living with AIDS. I see Noreen as a hero because of her choice to live openly with AIDS. Often, people tell me that it is such a brave or courageous thing to do to live openly with HIV/AIDS, but my reality is that there is no alternative. You have to do what you have to do to survive, and there is nothing particularly courageous about hanging on to life. However, by providing an example of someone who thumbs her nose at stigma, Noreen gives others strength to do the same and helps to demystify this disease for those who surround her.
"Noreen is a frequent visitor to Nata Clinic. She tested positive for HIV four years ago and has been on ARV's for the past 3 years. She has four children and her youngest little girl named Valentine is also HIV positive and taking ARV's. The PMTCT program was not in place 6 years ago when Noreen was pregnant. If the program had been available, Valentine would most likely be negative."
Stephen Mead, a repeat contributor to the ICP, joined my blog as a guest writer this month to post his poem The Day The Cure. In this poem, Stephen imagines the celebration on the day that we learn of the cure for AIDS. Stephen is a published writer, a filmmaker and artist. His work is featured on a number of his own websites. Please email Stephen via the link in this post to get more details on his work.
"Bring on your banners. Bring on
bands, spiraling tickertape, Sing
where you have managed some song all
along, for now is the hour of fingers
caressing heads, backs, on down, then
up the front, slowly, again & again."
News, Statistics and Policy
Dr. Dave Wessner of Davidson College teaches about HIV/AIDS in a biology class. His students are posting their assignments at The AIDS Pandemic. This month, we have two contributions from his students. Cara Maguire has written about HIV/AIDS in China and details the actions by the Chinese government to fight HIV/AIDS there.
"With a population of 1.3 billion people, many of them poor and in heavily concentrated cities, China appears to be a country ripe for the easy spread of HIV/AIDS. In 2000, the estimated HIV-positive population exceeded 500,000, with a growth rate that could peak at 10 million people by 2010."
In another article, Page Bomar examines HIV/AIDS in the Southeastern US. Social attitudes including conservatism and religion along with a misunderstanding of HIV/AIDS as a problem that only affects large urban gay communities have contributed to a sharp increase in HIV/AIDS cases here in my home area.
"From 2000-2003, CDC estimates show a 35% increase in new reported AIDS cases in the Deep South, but only a 5.2% increase nationally. The Deep South also has some of the highest AIDS death rates in the country."
Jason Nelson, a friend from Roxboro, North Carolina, compiled a list of statistics about HIV/AIDS in North Carolina in response to World AIDS Day. He joined my blog as a guest writer this month and I am proud to present his article World AIDS Day and North Carolina.
"Today and everyday is an opportunity to reflect on the first 25 years of AIDS and to reflect on how far we have yet to go. For me, today is not only about those infected and affected. It's about our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, co-workers, neighbors, best friends, lovers, partners. It's about our collective responsibility. It's about reflection. It's about healthy living. It's about acceptance. It's about destroying stigma. It's about truth. It's about honesty. It's about activism. It's about awareness. It's about you. It's about me. It's about US."
In related news, Doug Ireland at his blog Direland, urges us to contact our Senators to renew the Ryan White Act, legislation that provides medical assistance to millions of Americans living with HIV/AIDS. In his post, An Urgent DIRELAND Alert: CLINTON, SCHUMER, OBAMA JOIN TO FREEZE AIDS TREATMENT AND CARE", Ireland discusses the Ryan White Modernization Act and its impact on people living with HIV/AIDS. This year, the legislation was rewritten to accommodate the increase in HIV and AIDS cases in rural areas of America, but the reapportionment of funds was accomplished at the expense of large urban areas where the needs are also great. We need to see an increase in funding to expand access to critical, life-saving treatments throughout the country rather than a spreading of existing dollars across a broader area. The bill was held up in the Senate at the time of the recess for Congressional elections and is awaiting debate and a vote. In the meantime, funding for existing programs is on hold and there is a risk that individuals will lose coverage for their medications until this bill is reworked and passed. Please contact your US Senator if you are living in the US and let them know how you feel about depriving people of life-saving medications. You can find contact information for your Senator at the US Senate Website.
"For too long, people living with HIV/AIDS and frontline AIDS service providers have all made do with hopelessly inadequate funding. As of last week, nearly 200 people were on the wait list for drugs in South Carolina. Meanwhile, in New York, the over 125,000 people living with HIV/AIDS stand to loose $78 million in Title II funding over the next four years under the current Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act of 2006 (the bill to reauthorize Ryan White)."
From Ghana, Benjamin Lamptey of Planned Parenthood Young and Wise, contributed a flier that he put together about the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. I welcomed him as a guest writer on my personal blog where you can find images of the flier. By clicking on each of the two images, you can read what he has to say about the role of stigma in HIV/AIDS at Benjamin Lamptey of Ghana.
"Only by confronting stigma and discrimination can the fight against HIV/AIDS be won. Treat others as you would want them to treat you. Put yourself in their shoes…It could easily be you."
Katy of neweurasia.net writes about HIV/AIDS in Armenia, a country that has benefited from its relative geographic isolation during the struggle against HIV/AIDS.
"What Armenia has going for it right now is that it has a small AIDS/HIV infected population and can really make some smart moves early on to help prevent the spread of HIV NOW."
A returning contributor, Connor MacEachern of Where In the World is Connor MacEachern examines the role of poverty and aspirations of wealth among government leaders in Botswana in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In a world where so many people are living with the virus, it is a bit of an insult to the country’s population for the Government to spring for luxury cars. Please take a moment to read Connor's article, HDR vs. BMW.
"Botswana is a nation obsessed with status. Last week, President Festus Mogae bought an ad in one of the local papers, urging Batswana to stop spending their money on expensive cars. While this is true, with many Batswana neglecting their own nutrition and safety to pay for high-end vehicles, Mogae failed to see the big picture. Government officials demand to be treated with so much reverence that they promote themselves to god-like status. When these people expect lavish meals and special treatment to attend a poverty awareness even, like October's Stand Up campaign, it is inevitable that they will be emulated."
Finally, one more dip into my own personal blog, 2sides2ron where my World AIDS Day reflections highlight what I have learned from working with the International Carnival of Pozitivities for the past 6 months. In my post, Reflections on World AIDS Day, 2006 I spell out the issues I see that we continue to face in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
"My normal World AIDS Day activity has always involved remembering my lost friends. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of someone who is no longer here among the living. I still honor their memory by laughing about the stories we lived out together and by thinking very fondly of them to this day. When I consider that they have been gone, some for as many as 20 years, I am so very amazed still to be alive myself.
This World AIDS Day, I would like to focus a bit differently. In the past 6 months, the International Carnival of Pozitivities, a blog carnival that I founded for people living with HIV/AIDS around the world has done much to educate me about HIV/AIDS elsewhere…that is to say, outside of my own world. There are a number of themes that we share no matter what our culture and it is worthwhile simply to state what I am learning."
I hope you have found this edition of the International Carnival of Pozitivities to be informative and helpful. In fact, I hope that the personal stories have touched you enough that you will make every day an "AIDS Day". There is so very much to be done throughout the world that we need all the help we can get.
Please join us again next month when ICP-7 will be hosted by Jude Nagurney Camwell at Iddybud Journal. If you wish to submit articles for inclusion in future editions of the ICP, please visit the ICP homepage and click on the submit button. If you do not have a blog of your own and wish to join as a guest writer, or if you wish to volunteer to host a future edition of the carnival, please email me.
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