Posts Tagged ‘monkeys’

What I Know About AIDS

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Well, we have spent  over 3 weeks working around and with people with AIDS, and I thought I should learn a little more.

Back in the 1930’s,  a tribe in Senegal that hunted monkeys and were in contact with their blood, caught a Simian form of immune suppressing disease; the monkey form of HIV. They know this from archaic blood samples that have since been analyzed.

Now in order to take the next leap, the medical community figures that when mass immunizations started to eradicate childhood diseases, maybe a noble health care worker ran out of needles (they were not disposable then) so you might have to use 10 needles to vaccinate 100 people. You saved lives wiping out polio and such, but you unknowingly spread AIDS.

The gay community took it out of Africa, but also the traditions of the village culture spread it rapidly here. In some groups, when a girl became of age, a designated elder took away her virginity. And if a woman’s husband died, then a member of her husbands family had sex with her to erase the family link so she could marry again. Carriers spread the virus like wildfire.These are some of the ingrained customs that the medical people are fighting against.

So each day we come to the clinic where 50-100 people are lined up to see doctors and get their month’s supply of ARV’s (anti viral medications). The education room that I just painted, is where newly diagnosed patients get some training in how to LIVE with AIDS, including nutrition, sleep, cleanliness, and education. People don’t have to die from AIDS (tho’ there lives will be shorter due to stress on other organs etc). But pride and non compliance of doctor’s orders many times keep them from a healthy life.The saddest is the babies, but only one in three HIV mothers give birth to an infected infant.

In the capitol here, 18% of the population has the virus. But the more alarming statistic is about 80% of all women have been raped (this includes the “traditions”).

So that’s what I know now.