Freelance Nomad

Friday, June 08, 2007

Keep Laughing

In a previous post I recounted the story of having my trekking boots nicked by the Uttar Pradesh police once I got back to India.

Well, I was reminded of it again yesterday, when big sister Jenny and I went to see Othello at the Globe Theatre in London. One sonnet seemed particularly apt:

The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief;
He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.

Always good to see the funny side.

In other developments, I now have my visa to return to India - BRINGITON. As you can guess I'm very pleased about this... I'll be flying back on the 18th, but until then will be flitting around London and Norwich... See you soon?

Ice Cold In Kathmandu

Friday, June 01, 2007

Stigma Chakra
This the 'Stigma Chakra'. It's something Hans developed to illustrate what we see on the DISHA project time and time again.

People are ignorant about HIV. What it is, how it's transmitted, how to get tested, what it means to be HIV positive, what treatment options are available and so on. No one should be complacent: this lack of knowledge is NOT limited to India.

But the ignorance makes people fearful, leading to huge stigma surrounding the virus. When people encounter someone who is HIV positive, they react with discrimination. This leads to silence: why would you come forward if you might be shunned by your friends and family? People who suspect they may be HIV positive are reluctant to come and get tested. If they do find out they're HIV positive, they may be reluctant to tell anyone about it. As a result, they may run the risk of spreading the infection to their partner/s.

People living with HIV (PLHIV) often fail to seek medical help when they need it. Time and again, they won't come forward until they're at HIV stage IV, clinically known as AIDS. By this stage - needlessly! - it's too late. Yet by living healthily, treating opportunistic infections promptly and by following a regime of antiretroviral therapy, people can live with HIV for years. It is a chronic treatable condition, like diabetes.

But whereas people can live with HIV, AIDS is fatal. This reinforces the stereotype that HIV equals death... which leads to fear, leading to stigma... leading to discrimination... and so it goes on.

The key is to break the cycle. The enemy of ignorance is knowledge. Make people aware, and you can remove the fear. And the stigma, and the discrimination, and the silence.