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EDUCATION
KEY
IN AIDS BATTLE

Our best resource is individuals
infected with HIV!

by Bradford McIntyre

Article published in Pambazuka News Africa/Global May 6 2004

    Education is paramount if we are to reach individuals infected with HIV and those living with AIDS. Obviously, our best resource is from those who are affected by the disease! Information is not reaching those most in need and there is a certain mistrust of science and medicine. People are afraid. Many have only seen or heard of people dying and many people believe the drugs will kill them. It is important that they learn from those whose lives have been saved and who have benefited from the drug treatments, renewing a quality of life they would not have had otherwise.

Who better to explain the realities of living with HIV?

Infected people have the experience of living with the disease and its management. Considerable numbers have educated themselves in every aspect.

Who better to explain that being HIV+ is not the same as having AIDS?

Multitudes of people believe they are better off not knowing they have tested positive. They are under the impression that infection with HIV means they have AIDS. Their incorrect belief that a positive test assures that they will automatically die prevents them from choosing to be tested. They don't want to know.

Who better to explain the importance of knowing your immune system (CD4) and its level of functioning and the need to be aware of the degree of viral replication (viral load) through regular blood investigation?

Who better to explain the realities of the treatment regimen and the definite benefits of pharmaceuticals?

Who better than individuals living with HIV and AIDS to explain the importance of nutrition and the many alternative and complementary therapies available, which may aid in the management of wellness, with or without medications?

Who better to show you can live with HIV!

HIV needs to be in the media each and every day!

Information is sadly lacking. Snippets of news and safe sex commercials are not effective enough. The media has fallen short in reaching people globally. Misconceptions continue. Individuals are not getting tested. They are afraid to seek medical attention and do not realize there is much they can do to prevent the progression of HIV to AIDS. By the time many do get tested, it is often too late and they are already experiencing illness.

People who engage in unprotected sex risk infecting themselves and others. By not practicing safe sex, they are at greater risk of being infected with multiple strains and causing progression to disease.

"We estimate that roughly half of all people living with HIV either don't know that they are infected, or they are not in care, or both," Dr. Harold Jaffe, acting director of the National Center for HIV, Sexually Transmitted Di

An HIV test allows you to know if you are infected. The only way to determine how HIV is reacting in your body is with regular blood work!

The general public is unaware of the many realities of HIV or that people can live with HIV. Here in Canada, PRIDE VISION Television Network (The World's First GLBT Television Network) has programming with HIV/AIDS news, interviews, talk shows, shorts, documentaries, movies, prevention messages and more. Pride Vision programming covers GLBT related issues and it covers every aspect of HIV/AIDS in detail. It shows that HIV affects everyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, colour, and religion or spiritual beliefs.

Efforts to educate and tackle the stigma are hampered greatly when people living with HIV are not seen and heard discussing these issues.

Mainstream networks should follow the example of the PRIDE VISION network. With the current body of knowledge available, more efforts are necessary through every branch of the media, to reach and educate many more people. We must keep these messages highly visible if we are to move away from the ignorance, the fear and the stigma! This will encourage disclosure!

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copyright © Bradford McIntyre



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