Thursday, December 2, 2010

World Aids Day

Despite developments in healthcare, UNAIDS and WHO reports that over 7000 people get HIV every day. Of the total HIV patients, 40% are between the ages 15 and 24. I find it unbelievable that people with HIV are getting younger. According to UNICEF, HIV cases in the Philippines alone continue to increase.

The culprit, ignorance.

What is being done about this locally? Back in junior high, I can't remember being taught what HIV is. But there were rumors of men going around sticking infected needles on inattentive passersby. So my parents would, for a time, restrict us from going to crowded spaces. We'd be stuck home playing Mario Bros. or Carmen Sandiego until the rumors die. Interestingly, I stumbled upon a questionnaire on student health. This was given to children 11 to 16 years old, or students between Grade 5 and Fourth Year High. There were only 6 questions (there were  drug-related questions) that determine whether the children were being taught about AIDS/HIV in school or at home.

Even with efforts to increase awareness, studies show that people do not know how they can get HIV. A local survey in 2003 reports that only a third of respondents knew how HIV is transmitted. Do you believe that HIV can be transmitted by sharing food with a person with HIV or by getting bitten by bloodsuckers? I hope not.

World Aids is trending now among Twitterati in an effort to promote prevention mechanisms aimed towards diminishing, eventually eradicating, HIV around the globe. In their own way, people are trying to call on friends and their respective communities to get tested. It amuses me to find HIV/AIDS information being widely retweeted in different languages.

The global crisis strained local economies further challenging countries to wisely use valuable resources. By promoting the prevention revolution, we can save resources and save lives. Changes in availability and access to information should at least push us to learn more about HIV today. Pass information to the most vulnerable: women and teens. Young children can only depend on their parents. Do teens and young adults today know how HIV is transmitted? How open can parents talk to their teenage children about HIV? Yes, it is possible that your children will ask about sex since it is one of the ways HIV can be transmitted. Are you prepared to answer them?

I have a teenage sister and we realize that she is on her way to maturity. We are currently deliberating how to open the discussion about boys and sex. For Filipinos, this is a highly sensitive issue that often remain unspoken, only to result in early / risky pregnancies. Being a modern mom, I believe she deserves to know soon to make her own that responsibility when her time to decide comes. Me and my other sister were brought up the old-fashioned way, a few decades obviously make a difference in perspectives. And we worry a lot about our teen sibling. We worry so much we want to brief her and give her as much reference as we can.

Many are still prejudiced to the point of discriminating people with AIDS, often associating AIDS with promiscuity. For all we know, they were also victims. In some parts of the world, people found to be a source of HIV are penalized. Nevertheless, the number of HIV infected still shoots up, particularly among the younger generation. I think the number continues to soar because even the infected are not aware they have HIV. So lets help our family, friends and each other from becoming victims by being aware, submitting for a test and seeking immediate treatment if found positive.

In this age of information breakthroughs, ignorance should not be a reason.

Helpful Resources:

An Invitation to Health: Personal Health Self-assessment and Health Almanac: 2010-2011 Edition

Making Health Services More Accessible in Developing Countries; Finance and Health Resources for Functioning Health Systems

Community/Public Health Nursing Online / Community/Public Health Nursing Practice+User Guide + Access Guide: Health for Families and Populations



I went to France on this time and saw a lot of people (straight & non) fighting for goverment's support. I hope Filipinoes have the same pursuit too in this delimma we are all involved.

Allen Sawyer
Medical Dictionary

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