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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
December 1st is Everyday Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Munaf_MTL, Canada Nov 27, 2007
Culture , Health , Education , HIV/AIDS   Opinions


December 1st 1988, 19 years ago, I was at pre-school and my mom, then working at my country’s AIDS/STI unit, dropped by to give me a free t-shirt with a fancy logo and a red ribbon. This was the first inkling of the term HIV/AIDS. In Botswana, where I grew up, most people have heard of HIV/AIDS; most people have had family members die from AIDS related Opportunistic Infections.

In my immediate family, no one has been infected to my knowledge as we are all careful, I hope. My mother has been involved with the epidemic as a volunteer and public health specialist from its emergence and I am currently involved in researching the media response to the epidemic in Southern Africa. For us in the Sub-Saharan, Indian, Eastern European, Latin American, South East Asian and Chinese contexts, AIDS has and will become a major part of our every day psyche. How effective is having a World AIDS Day?

In my opinion, December 1st is important. It is a day to see how far we have come, to revisit the past and look towards the future with brighter and better responses to the epidemic. It is a day to recognize the fact that while AIDS has become our everyday nightmare, we are aware and doing something towards changing the effects of the epidemic. But it is also a warning, that we haven’t done enough and that we can do better, at home and abroad.

We need free access to generic ARVs and grants for research in the field. We need the young people of the developing world and AIDS affected regions to go out and learn skills and trades to return to not only immediately mitigate the epidemic, but create the opportunities for development as well in order to counter the social factors contributing to the spread of disease. AIDS is multi-faceted and has brought along with its far reaching consequences a grave warning.

When the next major virus arrives, we need to be prepared, educationally, economically and culturally. We need to prevent social stigma, have alternative forms of employment and bolster peace and securities within our borders. The stress of climate change on resources can only serve to increase the possibility for armed conflict, which in the case of AIDS has been a major contributing factor.

International Development is much more than the creation of opportunities for a better life above subsistence; it is the key towards survival, and is as multi-faceted as the AIDS epidemic that has been a major hindrance to its progress. For my country and others, with promising economies and increasingly talented citizens, AIDS and other epidemics prove to be a stumbling block. However the creation of a vaccine for one disease may stem the tide but effective social change and cultural ownership of development can prove to be effective barriers to the effects of disease, famine and disasters.

I hope that for the TIG community, December 1st is an opportunity to learn and share knowledge about AIDS and the effects it has on our societies, a day where can create a global consciousness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and become better prepared for the future, rather than just a day about free t-shirts and red ribbons.



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Writer Profile

I am 24 years old, male and multicultural. I was raised in Botswana. I now work in health research in Ottawa, Canada. I am currently finding my feet after university but I know that communicating the issues of inequality, health, and environment are close to my heart. I hope to one day work as a consultant bridging the gap between the targets of development and the sources for that development. I am a supporter of self-advocacy and capacity building and see my own personal path towards a fulfilling career as part of building my capacity to help the greater good.
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