Proposed Goal: Combat HIV/AIDS In Africa.

Though the incidence of HIV is in decline because of the impact of antiretroviral therapy(ART) in some countries, the numbers are still significant. As of 2010, HIV/AIDS was the 5th cause of global burden. The burden of HIV increased by 354%. In 2010, HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of DALY (sum of years lived with disability) in Eastern and Southern Africa, Central Africa, etc. In twenty six (26) countries, HIV/AIDS is ranked within the top five causes of burden.(2) As of 2011, we still have 2.5 million people still getting infected daily and 1.7 million people dying from AIDS related causes. Currently, we have about 34 million people living with HIV. (1) From the data, described above, this disease affects a huge number of the population and cuts across socioeconomic, cultural, and country boundaries. It is the 5th leading cause of DALY in Africa  and as such it affects each country’s human resources and is therefore critical to combat for the development of each country and the continent as a whole. Just think, humans are involved in every facet of a country’s development and when you have sick humans who are unable or too weak or dead to work/ create/innovate, you have a country that is on a steady decline to its extinction. 

To combat this disease in Africa, we will need a mixture of strategies involving gender equality, empowerment of women, getting men involved as willing participants in the prevention and care. Education, ART, protection will be some of the tools that will be used in combating this disease. Everyone will have to be on board from the clinicians to the recognized and accepted power brokers within the society. In some communities in which traditional doctors and medicine are seen as superior, there might be a need to involve a form of medical pluralism in which accepted clinical practices work vis a vis traditional medicine to get the support of these communities. While in other countries or communities, discourse might need to be started in which alternative means of protection beyond abstinence is shared.

To achieve this goal of combating HIV/AIDS in Africa, we will need to achieve certain sub goals. These sub goals will involve prevention and care and they are namely:

a)Create awareness of the disease, its spread and its effect in countries. This will involve education and will combat misinformation, myths and disinformation about the disease. For example, in previous years in South Africa, it was believed that having sex with a virgin or little child will cure AIDS. We need education in similar countries that might have the wrong information about the infection, spread or cure of HIV/AIDS.(3) 

b)Promote empowerment of women, so that women understand that they have a voice in sexual negotiations. This empowerment should also include commercial sexual workers who will understand that they can refuse to have unprotected sex.

c)Train health care workers and clinicians in the tools necessary to combat the disease.

d) Have condoms and other tools for protection provided either free of charge or make the cost inexpensive, so it accessible to all. This will also include ART.

e)Create welcoming communities, so that those that are infected and their loved ones’ do not feel ostracized or alone.

Political Realism:

Africa is a huge continent with different social, economic and cultural climate. In countries in which the health sector is very involved in combating HIV/AIDS, this goal is very achievable. Some of these countries are South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana etc. (4) But, in other countries, for example, heavily Islamic countries that have an extremely strong ‘moral’ compass there might be a need for a stronger push. Combatting HIV/AIDS in these countries will involve addressing the issue of sex and taking off the blinders that many will prefer to have about sexual relations and other activities of the country. But, yes, this goal is achievable in Africa.

1)http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/hiv-aids/overview.html

2)http://www.healthmetricsandevaluation.org/publications/summaries/burden-hiv-insights-global-burden-disease-study-2010

3)http://www.journaids.org/index.php/essential_information/myths_and_misconceptions_about_hivaids/having_sex_with_a_virgin_will_cure_hiv/

4) http://www.etu.org.za/toolbox/docs/localgov/municipalities.html

By OPUSC.

I was in Houston, Texas for a couple of days and I fell deeply in love with this highly organized cosmopolitan city. Why did I go in earlier than planned? Well, on campus housing was booked to the tee and it was best to get the housing aspect of admission taken care of.  I spoke to a lady in Houston  who was looking for a roommate and the plan was that I will spend the weekend in Houston, meet her and sign the contract necessary to be apartment mates.  But, unfortunately, that plan fell through the cracks and my plans were turned upside down.  Despite, the little upheaval to my plans, I did get to explore Houston a little bit, I got to go to my school on Sunday and gained a deeper appreciation for google maps.  My school is absolutely beautiful by the way.

The good news is that I did achieve my aim of getting a place to stay that met my criteria.  It is amazing how it all worked out.    There were many times that I felt frustrated and I thought I will return back to my temporary abode without achieving anything but when you keep calm and appraise your situation rationally, things generally fall in place.

What are my thoughts on Houston?  I love it and I am definitely looking forward to spending some years in this city even though, I have this weird feeling that my roots might eventually be in a different Texan town but this is okay for now.  Houston is actually very funny.  In New York, the disparity between the rich and the poor were pretty obvious in terms of the cities and towns that they choose to live in but in Houston that really isn’t the case.  The rich and the poor seem to live side by side amicably. But, I found a little undercurrent of racial tension in Houston.  Now, before typing my experiences, do realize that these are first impressions, so they might not be how things really are.  Secondly, I might be looking at everything from New York eyes, so my view might be a little flawed.

I stayed in a little place where international travelers et al, generally stay and I came in very exhausted and had to find somewhere to eat.  I have to admit that I did not look at my room number when I was taken up, my mind was only on food and eventual rest.  After eating my little heart out and returning back to the place that I had to stay, I realized that I did not know my room number, it wasn’t written on any document, so I walked up to the lady in charge at the receptionist desk to ask her what my room number is.  She looked at me, opened up her fingers  and said room five.  I was taken aback.  You know how people use their hands to communicate with those who they feel can’t understand English, that’s what she did and I wanted to slap her silly with those fingers of hers but I just shook my head and told myself that maybe I misunderstood what she was doing.  She was Caucasian.

The second place of racial undercurrent was when I went in to eat. I chose to eat at a Chinese restaurant because I could not find a Mexican restaurant that could promise me the kind of spicy food I needed.  Once, I stepped into the restaurant, the server scowled at me but still led me to my chair.  She gave me the menu and I made my order.  When she came to give me the food i ordered, she kind of slammed the food on my table. I was like, huh, but thought maybe I could be over reacting.  But, then , I listened to her talking to a caucasian man who she was asking how his food was and she was very pleasant and showed a different side from what she showed me.  I was very turned off by her behavior.  I tipped her, but only because I wanted her to see that black people do not go into restaurants with trouble making written on their foreheads.  The waiter was Asian.

The third place was when I was looking for a place to live for the new semester.  The guy who was managing/supervising the place was Hispanic.  The first comment that rang some bells was when I came in , he seemed taken aback by my appearance and then the next statement he said was,”I have no problems with race, I believe we are all one” He said all these without any conversation about race. Once, I heard that, I knew I had to be on my guard.  Then, he mentioned, that he only had two black tenants living in the apartment  complex and he sent the other black tenants out.  He went ahead to mention that he had refused to rent his apartment to some black people because he had a bad feeling about them even though they were qualified and had the money necessary to rent the apartment.  Then he went ahead to insinuate about my legal status in this country.  You know at that point,  I was mentally counting up to ten.  Then he goes ahead to say that the reason that a certain country in Africa was better and more organized is because white people are still in power, of course, I had to correct his history because he obviously had his facts wrong about that country.   Then, he refused to give me documents to fill my tax information and then gave me a form to fill out all my information which he wanted to fully investigate.  I shook my head.  This man obviously had issues with race, okay, black people to call a horse, a bloody horse.  But, I was polite to him because, seriously, my mind was focused on one objective which was to get a place to live next semester.

But beyond, these three instances showing the undercurrent of racial tensions in Houston, everything was okay.  I noticed that the homeless cut across racial lines.   That was meh!

What did I learn from this trip?

a) Do not take any road trips that is more than 6 hours long.   All you get from it is a cramped back, lack of sleep, and a jacked up system.

b) Houston has some delectable eating places.

c) Houston is a very organized city.

d) Houston is cosmopolitan.

e) Houston has some very friendly people and some very hot men!!  *ahem*

f) Google maps is the business.

g) Keep an open mind, open log, relax and enjoy the flow!

🙂

Me.