Ha!Its not what you think..shame on you.But it got your attention.In the spirit of World AIDS day I decided to write a quick blog.My small contribution in raising awareness on the AIDS pandemic.One of my good mates put it to me recently that while they have enjoyed some of my previous blogs , they have been a bit too long. Well today dear friend ,I will treat you to a quickie.
I am actually typing this on my phone on my way home after a very productive day(If you call spending the vast majority of the work day on the various social sites productive )To those who might have missed it .Today is World AIDS day .A day set aside to promote awareness of the AIDS pandemic which has had a devastating effect, especially in Sub Saharan Africa. I m sure most of my fellow African brothers and sisters can testify that the reality of HIV/AIDS is all too familiar on the continent. Most of us know off or have had a relative or friend pass away from the virus.
My time today on the social networks was enlightening as people did their bit to raise awareness through sharing articles & posting updates /tweets to raise awareness .Whilst this was commendable what struck me was an article I just read titled Every Day is World AIDS day .The author of this particular blog pointed out that they found the concept of World AIDS day bittersweet , with particular reference to the role the media (and by extension I guess social networks play.Since a vast majority of us get our news & subsequently share it using these platforms )
The reason this particular Blogger felt it was bittesweet is that on the one hand, it’s a day when much of the media focuses on a global pandemic that desperately needs attention. On the other hand, it’s become the only day when much of that same media shines a light on the issue even as millions more have become infected with HIV worldwide and when we are at critical juncture where we could see the end of AIDS if efforts – and media attention – are brought to bear.The same it could be argued applies for social media trends .I personally don’t recall ever seeing anything raising awareness of the pandemic other than today.
I find this intriguing because as an African , naturally a huge chunk of my friends list whilst diverse is still predominantly African. All of us have at some stage I believe been affected by the pandemic .The stats don’t lie .It is estimated that 34 million people are living with the HIV virus & here is the thing, the vast majority of those infected live in Sub Saharan Africa .In fact an estimated 22.5 million people were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2009, including 2.3 million children.During 2009, an estimated 1.3 million Africans died from AIDS. Almost 90% of the 16.6 million children orphaned by AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa.Those are depressing stats.Cry, beloved Motherland.
Other tid bits I picked up from the various media today is a worrying trend .The majority of adults in Africa who have HIV get it from their partners,with a high prevalence amongst married couples.That is scary! But not surprising. Especially when you factor in the whole concept of “Small” houses that seems to be generally accepted in our culture.It is not just this several other elements of our culture also contribute to the prevalence of the birus on the continent.Chief among that being that it seems generally taboo openly discuss issues around sexusl health.. Our people are dying ,we seriously need to get over that.We have embraced foreign cultures with aplomb and even let go of some of our perceived backward cultural trends.Why cant we do the same in this case.One might argue that is mainly a problem with the older generation the older generation(the refusal to discuss issues surrounding sex) but our generation has its own shortcomings.The biggest of which is exemplified in a track called Doing it wrong by Drake of his Take Care album where he sings “We live in a generation of not being in love & not being together but we sure make it feel like we’re together“.The Booty call generation.People are dying.
One of the experiences that still haunts me to this day is a conversation I had with a close family friend years ago who was on his deathbed from HIV related complications.He was as thin as an anorexic at the time.The little hair he had left was thin and wavy almost as if it had been relaxed.He was a pale shadow of his old robust self. The once proud, loud man who could keep any room spellbound with his stories was no more. He needed a walking stick and used the walls of the to help him keep his balance as he walked around the.It was a sorry sight.But it was not all some kinda freak show.He actually said something very poignant that has stayed with me.He went on to spoint out that whether I was sexually active or not did not really matter to him,because his advice was universal .Always use the ABC rule in issues of sex .That is… Abstinence .Be Faithful .Condomise.You don’t want to end up like me. I thought I was invincible,but look at me now.He passed on a few weeks later .But his last words to me have stayed with me.
The final thing I will say is this.I hope that The issues surrounding AIDS become a more common dialogue especially but not exclusively amongst my fellow Africans.Lets aim to get rid of the stigma attached to the AIDS pandemic. It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance! Be responsible. Know your status. Get tested.Not Just today on World AIDS but regularly.