by Bradford McIntyre, Positively Positive, Canada
POZ Canadian (Canada) - POZ Canadian Quarterly
January 4, 2004
As an individual living with HIV for 19 years, I have been working to break down the barriers of fear and discrimination for nearly a decade. As well, creating awareness among the many issues surrounding HIV and AIDS. I believe there is a serious problem stemming from the lack of media coverage, when it comes to educating people about HIV/AIDS.
Where is the media? How can there be any real understanding about HIV/AIDS and HIV prevention, without the necessary information reported? HIV/AIDS in the news is minimal, at a time when it needs to be forefront. Why is this? Money is being spent trying to determine ways to provide HIV prevention but in order to reach everyone, HIV needs to be in the news!. Talking about safe sex and the need to use a condom or providing condoms is not working! HIV is a global problem which demands attention yet those of us working tirelessly are unable to get articles or /letters published in newspapers, events covered, or messages conveyed to help educate the public. Who better to address the situation than individuals who are living with HIV, or AIDS?
Unfortunately because of the stigma associated with HIV, still, people are not letting others know they have been infected. Who better to reach these people as well as informing the general public than individuals living with HIV! But we do not see people living with HIV explaining the realities. The time the media gives to HIV/AIDS coverage is that of news covering a new drug or conference or a statistic. More familiar, media coverage of the sick Many of us even though illness has been a constant, we have crossed the boundaries of fear and discrimination in our own lives as well as for the sake of others. Our voice not only needs to be heard but I believe our voices are necessary if the stigma is going to change. We can no longer continue as we have! Health care is homeland security and health care is on everyone's mind, regardless of where you live! We must all work together and we must use every available means.
People need to see others who are infected with HIV, to see they are not afraid to tell others they are infected. Yet, science, medical, pharmaceutical, government and the media has ignored much of what individuals infected have to say, which is a major contribution when it comes to understanding HIV and AIDS. There is an abundance of information which is not being provided by individuals infected, and this can obviously be attributed to the stigma attached to HIV, but, there are those of us who are infected with HIV who are not afraid, who are willing to have our voices heard and willing to do what ever it take to help create awareness. Many us know the severity of HIV on a global scale as well as the realities of living infected with HIV. The public needs to understand HIV and let go of the fear, each person taking part in a global prevention strategy.
With antiretroviral therapies and fewer deaths associated with these HIV/AIDS treatments, many people have discontinued safe sex practices. HIV infection is not disclosed to partners and sex without a condom is increasing at alarming rates. So now HIV infection is on the rise again. There is no doubt this situation is going to have an enormous effect on all our lives. The United Nations predicts AIDS will cut population by 300 million; 300 million fewer people in the world by the year 2050 from the impact of AIDS.
People think because we have antiretroviral therapies there is no need to practice safe sex or worry. There is no guarantee these medications will work on everyone! An infected individual may be resistant to all the drugs taken by the person who transmitted the disease. Multiple sex partners means multiple infections can occur with the likelihood of infection with more than one HIV strain. This places an individual in greater danger of illness and or death as well as any person they infect. Some strains of HIV have been shown to cause illness and death rapidly regardless of immune status. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated 170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C. Being infected with HIV may also include being infected with Hepatitis C along with other sexually transmitted diseases such as; syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, human papilloma virus (HPV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), and hepatitis A, B, and/or C.
There is the perception that if you are infected, HIV is manageable. Managing HIV/AIDS can become a full time job! It involves management of your health through doctors‚ appointments, hospital visits for blood work and appointments at hospital pharmacies to pick up your necessary HIV/AIDS medications. You must manage the side effects of the drugs and drug resistance. There are the demands of managing to overcome each opportunistic infection. All of these are essential to manage to stay alive!
HIV infection does not occur without an opportunity! HIV can be stopped, but without more public awareness of the risks involved, safe sex practices, and the realities of people living with HIV, the numbers of infections will continue to grow and more lives devastated! UNAIDS estimates as many as two thirds, of the 45 million new HIV infections expected by 2010 could be prevented if prevention programs were immediately expanded. Along with more media coverage, governments need to expand and include the voice of people infected if we are to reach and educate the public.
Bradford McIntyre (www.positivelypositive.ca)
(Bradford McIntyre is a Contributing Member of POZ Canadian web site)
POZ Canadian is a non-profit Canadian Internet based community that provides free support; news about traditional and alternative treatments; lists resources and organizations; connects with other people living with HIV/AIDS in Canada through discussion forums; personals; chat and e-mail.
We welcome your ideas, feedback and suggestions - this is your web site and we want to make it as useful, fun and full of options... Post it all in POZ Canadian Voice Forum! People living with HIV/AIDS operate the POZ Canadian web site.
HIV Prevention by Bradford McIntyre
Published: in POZ Canadian (Canada) - POZ Canadian Quarterly
January 4, 2004
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