WORLD AIDS DAY 2013: THE PATHOLOGY OF SOCIAL STIGMA

Officially, HIV turned 32 yesterday but the fight to control the single largest killer of the mankind in the contemporary history through its pathological and sociological killing effects is yet to see a pathbreaking breakthrough.

Though, the science of HIV-AIDS has witnessed a regular improvement in the treatment regime over the years reducing the new cases of infection, delaying the transformation of virus from HIV to AIDS stage in the infected persons, even having the rare instances of reports saying of HIV cure like the world debated this year the case of a Mississippi baby.

As reported, a Mississippi baby, who was HIV infected from birth, was found HIV-infection free in a round of medical checkup earlier this year. A CNN report said it happened quite easily. Her antiretroviral medication was stopped when she was 15 months old. She was found infection free when she was taken for diagnosis at her second birthday. Scientists believe it could have been due to the high-dose of the combination of three antiretroviral medicines given to the baby within 30 hours of birth.

It was only the second claim of HIV cure and the first in case of a child after the ‘Berlin Patient’ Timothy Ray Brown was declared HIV-cured in 2007.

Then there have been other claims of cure and advances in the medical R&D on HIV-AIDS telling us the sincere work is being done in-spite of the global geopolitics on providing funds for the research.

The ‘Berlin Patient’ is not a patient anymore. The miracle Mississippi baby is not HIV-infected anymore. They are ‘functionally cured’ of HIV infection.

That is the science part of HIV-AIDS epidemic. The scientific achievements and improvements do give us reasons to hope for a better life and enhanced protection and security from the killer medical circumstances of the viral epidemic, but its sociological aspect leaves us staring in the dark, damaging in process, whatever little the medical advancement achieves.

Yes, there are attempts globally to create and spread awareness about HIV-AIDS to reduce and end the discrimination against the infected people. There are multiple campaigns running globally and nationally in many countries. Work being done by India’s NACO (National AIDS Control Organization) is exemplary. There are many transnational agencies working out tirelessly to make the societies more inclusive for the HIV-AIDS affected people.

Events like the World AIDS Day are telling examples of the hard work being put into. From a one-day event, it has been extended into a theme-based campaign running throughout the year.

Though, it is the 25th anniversary of the World AIDS Day this year, if we, still, cannot talk about the progresses made in containing HIV-AIDS in a satisfactory way, it is because of the social discrimination and apathy towards the HIV-AIDS affected.

The social stigma associated with HIV-AIDS continues. And it is universal. The discrimination – it is not just by the uneducated, less educated, unaware, or poorly-aware, but it is also by the people considered to be from the social classes who could show the way in bringing the HIV-AIDS affected to the mainstream of the society, thus giving them the dignified life they deserve, just like you and me. Reports are common that even doctors refuse the treatment once they find the patient is HIV/AIDS affected. Schools refuse or expel such students. Societies, even the most civilized ones, from the upper, opulent level of the social formation, easily make the HIV/AIDS affected an outcast.

The HIV-AIDS affected, who can live a normal life, just like you and me, if we let them, not treating them as outcasts – they form a large part of the global human population – WHO and UNAIDS put them at 35.3 million. How can we exile them, leave them to die?

Whatever small or big achievements we achieve medically year-on-year to talk about on days like the World AIDS Day, we, as a society, cannot head anywhere until we check this problem, until we give the HIV-AIDS affected people a life that we live, until we see them as the normal people just like us, until we give them their right to a dignified life back that we have usurped from them.

Science can lead us to the control and cure of the pathological symptoms of HIV-AIDS, but what about our very own pathological symptoms that push us to treat the HIV-AIDS affected people as the social outcasts?

They need our care, our support, the emotional connect, to win the fight against HIV-AIDS. Can’t we give them their rightful due?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WORLD AIDS DAY 2013: SOME RANDOM OBSERVATIONS

LIGHT, THOU ART THE HEALING. LIGHT, THOU ART THE SOUL.

Life finds its flow. Light finds its intensity.

Though there are many more silent killers than the HIV/AIDS, the social stigma attached with this viral epidemic makes it a killer in the real sense. Though not curable yet, the advances in the health science with more evolved antiretroviral therapy has made life easier for millions of the HIV-positive people across the world so much so that they can now maintain even the sexual contact with their partners with proper precautions.

HIV/AIDS treatment and further research has always been a politically sensitive issue as the current treatment regime and the further research both are highly expensive and prevalence of the HIV infected people in many low-income (69 per cent of the HIV infected are living in Sub-Saharan countries) and developing countries only exacerbates the problem.

Reports on the World AIDS Day 2011 said, “It’s more of a manageable chronic infection and not a life-threatening one now.” World Health Organization (WHO) said, “Increased access to HIV services resulted in a 15% reduction of new infections over the past decade and a 22% decline in Aids-related deaths in the last five years.”

Much was said and debated as the HIV-AIDS completed its 30 years in June 2011. Obama had announced new resolve to combat the HIV-AIDS menace. What could happen and what could have happened since then is to be seen on this World AIDS Day.

“Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination” – was the theme of the World AIDS Day last year, and is this year, too. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) then, the goal to bring 15 million HIV-infected people under the treatment regime of the antiretroviral drugs by 2015, though a tough assignment, looked within reach given the latest global statistics then.

Like every other health problem, if the HIV-infected people, too, are taken into the mainstream and given a holistic environment of medical and emotional care, every HIV target would be much easier to scale and achieve. Countries across the world need to plan and think large scale social interventions and mobilizations and now is the time.

Life finds its flow. Light finds its intensity.

LIGHT, THOU ART THE HEALING. LIGHT, THOU ART THE SOUL.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/