Today is World AIDS Day. As I prepared to write this post, I read through tons of articles, documents, and books about HIV and AIDS. And I was struck by:
- the amount of information that is readily at my fingertips.
- the number of lies and misconceptions that are floating around about the subject.
Today, I’d like for you to take a step out of your cultural perspective and into a life in sub-Saharan Africa, into the lie of poverty. Imagine you are a young mother in Tanzania. Your father has just died — and you know why.
AIDS has claimed his life, but your family is too ashamed to tell your neighbors this. Instead, you tell the neighbors that he died from malaria.
On top of that, you’re scared because you and your 2-year-old son lived in the family hut with him. Hundreds of thoughts cross your mind: “Do I have AIDS? I’ve eaten food after my father and I know I’ve hugged him many times. Will I die? I don’t think there is a treatment for AIDS.”
Instead of going to a clinic to get tested, you live in fear of what might be. After all, getting tested is seen to be shameful among those in your community.
What troubles me the most about this “story” is that it’s not fake. There are potentially millions of young mothers going through this situation right now.
They believe the lies that poverty tells about HIV and AIDS.
- HIV testing is unreliable.
- HIV can be spread by sharing food or hugging an affected individual.
- HIV is transmitted by mosquitoes.
- An HIV-positive mother cannot have children.
- HIV only affects drug users.
- If an individual is receiving treatment for HIV or AIDS, he or she can’t spread the virus.
We can easily educate ourselves with books, the Internet, visits to the doctor, etc. However, these resources aren’t as readily available to those in the developing world surviving on less than $1.25 a day. The truth about HIV is that it’s a preventable and treatable disease.
So today, I have a very short to-do list for you: Do something to spread awareness about the truth of HIV and AIDS.
It’s a pretty simple task. Here are a few places that’ll help you get started: