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Stigma and discrimination related to HIV/AIDS are almost as old as the pandemic itself and regrettably, it often exists in health care settings. Discrimination against people living with HIV results in poor quality of care for those who are infected or suspected of being infected , frightens away potential clients in need of care and undermines effective HIV prevention efforts by limiting individuals’ access to and use of health care services. Access to lifesaving services will depend on the degree to which health facilities will welcome and respect the rights of HIV persons. Knowledge about HIV prevention, transmission and care can offset the stigma that is caused by misinformation and ignorance. Sensitization programs are still needed in many areas for successive generations of young people. Stigma exists not simply within individual actions but within broad social and cultural contexts in the society. According to Success Afuombum , a Senior Peer educator of HIV/AIDS he says many have lost their lives to HIV because of stigma and HIV is not only gotten via sex .’If you are heavily discriminated upon because of your HIV status, then suicide will naturally come knocking’. He denotes that we all have a share responsibility towards HIV infected persons and instead of making them feel guilty, we as care givers, guidance’s and neighbors need to change our behaviors and mentalities towards HIV patients. ‘Care , concern and love shown to them will gradually make stigma to die a natural death and become history’ he admits.

Categories: HIV
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I participated in an on-line interview earlier this year…

So this kinda serves as my bio and my first post….

HI MY NAME IS VANDEREK/VANN AND I HAVE AIDS


 

Categories: HIV
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Sex ans sexual acts are filled with various myths which has been giving some scary and untrue message to the world.this has been responsible for sex related fear and perceptions of the people around the globe. Though myths changes with the place we dwell but each and every part of the world has one or the other myths associated with following.
1. You can tell by looking if you or someone else has an STD / I would know if I had an STD.
2. If I needed to get tested for STDs, my doctor would test me.
3. If I get an STD, including HIV, there’s nothing I can do about it.
4. If he pulls out, I won’t get pregnant or an STD.
5. STD testing is for cheaters & players.
6. Sex in a hot tub / sex standing up / jumping up and down /douching after sex… will prevent STDs, including HIV, and/or pregnancy.
7. Two condoms are better than one.
8.There’s a cure for HIV/AIDS.
9. Oral sex and anal sex are “safe” sex–or not sex at all.
10. If I use birth control, I don’t need to worry about STDs.

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On June 26th, I sat down in a small law school auditorium in downtown San Francisco with dozens of other people, none of whom could be described by just one adjective. In fact, this collective group of people ranged from young professionals to the eccentric enthusiast. Some of them had personal stories, while others did not. For some, they were there for work, and others because of passion. However, all of them had gathered to take part in what I initially thought to be a beneficial discussion on the future of HIV/AIDS. With the International AIDS Conference right around the corner, it was no light matter when discussing the future of HIV/AIDS; before we step onto the international stage, our nation needed to have a serious discussion. And what better city to discuss the future than where some of the earliest outbreaks of HIV/AIDS were found? The panel of speakers was made up of several local government officials, but the focus was clearly on the representatives of our nation’s executive branch. It was no surprise that most attendees were attentively listening to what they had to say. Dr. Andrew Forsyth began with several updates on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals. The nation has made many gains in this fight against HIV but there is still a long way to go. Some of the data he presented gave a clear indication that young people must be at the center of this discussion. Young people, specifically young African Americans, are least likely to remain in long term care for HIV/AIDS and are least likely to achieve viral suppression. Furthermore, compared to 2008, even though the percentage of new infections has been falling among many demographic groups, it has increased by 22% in young MSM. What I like about data is that they are cold hard facts. It is clear what the numbers Dr. Forsyth presented meant, the importance of providing care to young people. Though the data showed an obvious trend, Dr. Forsyth did not quite outline the specifics of how young people would be involved or how the Office of National AIDS Policy would make revisions to its strategy to target the populations at risk, as evidenced by the data. I figured, perhaps this was just an update on numbers; surely the next speaker, the director of ONAP, would have more to say about how the nation would be targeting its strategy for those who need it most. Douglass Brooks, director of ONAP, took the stage and gave a lengthy discussion on the nine Priorities of the National HIV AIDS Strategy. These nine priorities are as follows: Continued HIV Care for Patients, the Intersection of Violence Against Women and Girls and HIV, monitoring the Affordable Care Act coordination, Aligning Federal Resources with Epidemiologic Data, Developing Public-Private Partnerships, Employment Opportunities for Patients, Updating the 2015 Targets, HIV in the South, and HIV Among Gay Men. On paper, all nine of these priorities are important. I thought numbers two and five were especially important. But what I did notice was not one priority was solely dedicated to young people. It seems that the epidemiologic data wasn’t enough to justify dedicating a priority to young people. Nonetheless, the discussion Mr. Brooks began was important to help those with HIV/AIDS be brought into the healthcare system and be monitored for continued care. Several other speakers spoke on local HIV/AIDS in California and San Francisco. San Francisco is an important model city where the data for number of virally suppressed individuals is much greater than that of many cities in our country. It finally came to the question answer session. I stood up and knew exactly what I wanted to ask: what would ONAP specifically be doing to involve young people in their strategy and what revisions would be made to the current strategy to ensure there would be a focus on young people. I stood in line, a piece of paper with a few notes and key words jotted down…and alas, I wasn’t allowed to ask my question. It’s funny how time restraints work out. I sat back down for the second half of the session, a greater focus on local issues. By chance, during this part, I ran into Mr. Brooks in the restroom. I thought, what better way to start up a conversation, albeit, not in the most ideal location. Mr. Brooks assured me that he was working with organizations just like mine to ensure young people are involved on his steering committee. He seemed to be saying exactly what any young advocate would want to hear. We both sat back down. It was time for the second question-answer session. This time, I made sure I was at the front of the line. My question was on the partnerships ONAP would be developing with the Department of Education to ensure comprehensive sexual education would be available to students across the country, something that can have a huge impact in the fight against HIV/AIDS. My question was directed exclusively to Mr. Brooks, but it seemed that Dr. Forsyth of the DHHS had something to say. He answered by saying that the Federal government had a “great appreciation” for this issue, but it was something that had to be dealt with at a “local level, not at a federal level.” I was taken aback by his comments. A local issue? What exactly does “great appreciation” even mean? Maybe Mr. Brooks would have more to say. At that point, an older woman sitting at the back of the room stood up and shouted, “It is a federal issue, it is your issue!” An unassuming partner in the room had just supported something I wanted to say but couldn’t. The moderator tried to calm the situation, and when he asked Mr. Brooks if he had anything to add, he shook his head and that was the end of my question. I was surprised that the Director of ONAP had absolutely nothing to say, and instead, simply shook his head to a question that was asked directly to him. The fight against HIV/AIDS is a long journey, but with the right tools, data, and leadership it is something our nation can win. However, if this regional HIV/AIDS policy session was any indication, then our nation requires a lot more dialogue and discussion on the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, specifically on young people, comprehensive sexual education, and access to the services that will improve their overall quality of life.

Categories: HIV
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Coupled with the buzz of religious norms the relationship with sexual health and development in most parts of the world – where girls are a major entity. There are huge barriers raising the heights against change, due to religious tenets and other viral misconception on girls sexual health by uneducated and uninformed dictators.
Most Christian girls socialize and connect with youths of the opposite sex. Frankly the main course for this, is to associate with the outside world and spread the world for change.
In Nigeria, there’s an upheaval of distrust when it comes to Christian girls associating with boys of different social and religious background. The enmity connected with youths due to a difference in background makes it difficult for social equality to take effect.

Most girls have become rigid due to the religious norms governing the idea of equality.
Our social conditioning as males and females is an important determinant of sexual risk behaviours. The pressure from religious beliefs like ,” no sexual intercourse till marriage, no dating and socialize with only the same peer group, pressure most girls into engaging in sexual behaviours they don’t want, and as a consequence increase their risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

The nub of the matter is that these girls due to pressure from religious norms have rapidly increased the rate of teenage pregnancy and STIs – which is a major threat to a promising society.

I believe that, if we can raise our voice the notion governing religious superiority in our environment , then we may experience social equality.

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The issue of sexual health and its related concept have been a heart-ache in the domain of growth and fundamental right. In Nigeria, there’s a redundant development in men’s sexual health as well as women. We (men&women), at most case experience the same circumstances ; while some Girls are raped – which results from the deformity in social and health status, lack of respect and right. Boys experience some Abnormal Behaviours – As a result of poor Environmental standard, wrong peer group, lack of sex-Ed and above all poor home training.

The Notion for the fundamental dedication of change is an abstract concept put to practice by uneducated and inexperienced dictators. What we need is a change, a turn-around from the illusion that all will be safe and sound.
Girls have become an object of mockery And abuse. There’s a gross increase in stigma, which emanates from unwanted and unhealthy sexual intercourse and Hiv, as well as other Demographic circumstances. The worst of all this, is the lack of respect shown to girls (Especially in the Northern parts of Nigeria).

I have recently noticed a meager increase in Medical utensils made available by the so-called government. Even at the expense of this unqualified rise in standard, there’s still a turmoil between men and women on who is to use these medical service and when to use it.
“Inequality”, has curbed the value for a characteristic change in Health services rendered to Nigerians. Today, medical doctors in government owned hospitals go on strike mostly for an increment in salary – with little or no maintenance and materials for health services.
Sexual health is a FACTOR of life. And as long as there will be Reproduction, Sexual Health is Needed and should be (RESPECTED,PROTECTED and FUFILLED) in the affair of every man and woman.

Another subject that greatly disturbs is the decry of provisional aid in the facilitation and tackling of the defaults associated with health services rendered and a very low attention given to (Affected (Hiv) and Unaffected persons).

On the context of medical attention , segregation is the source of ‘Inequality’. The Rich gets all the attention he/she needs and the poor man or woman has his/her rights neglected – As a result of the segregation in roles and opportunities affiliated to Health.

An Even Social status attributed to Sexual health is one cure to the ill practices portrayed by the lack of Decency and Inequality.

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For months, I have thought, read and surfed the
web and other extensive files and documents of
ways by which ; Males and Females , can have
safer sexual intercourse without STDs and not
having to worry about Unwanted pregnancy.
Although , Abstinence is a profound alternative
which is practiced by volunteering to Refrain from
sex , till a divine time. Abstinence is laid on a
foreground of not having any kind of sexual
relationship with a partner – it is simply
diminishing this urge with self will (i.e not willing
to oblige).
But , I have often dabbled at rigorous questions I
can’t answer ( like : Can we all abstain from sex ?)
If only a handful can, then what about the
majority ? I got the idea of Outercourse, from
Medical Reports I came across and other
documents too.
“Outercourse allows people to express their
sexuality in many ways, to Abstain from sex, and
avoid the risks of sexually transmitted infection
and unplanned pregnancy”.
“Outercourse is any sex play with no penetration
at all, whether — oral, anal, or vaginal”.

http://www.mariatalks.com/birth-control/

abstinence-and-other-behavioral-choices
It also, defines the situation of intercourse –
between youths and adults experimentally.
Most youths, especially young couples who desire
no intercourse between themselves for a long time
can delve into outercourse :
Because there are no side effects and medical
faults , since the fondling of the body is meant to
cause stimulation and provide satisfaction.
Outercourse is a the best option for the young and
old, since sexual intercourse cannot be ultimately
ruled out.
Outercourse, is not an education, but rather
abdication of the role of guiding youths with the
information they need to make personally
influenced decisions based on sound reasoning
facts. “Knowing, what is safe and what you should
avoid will help you make proud and responsible
choices”.
Outercourse gives an outstanding solution to the
aches we have in the society due to certain notions
most youths and couples partake in.
There are ways in which youths, couples and
adults can life an outstanding life without being
cut short by unwanted and unplanned
circumstance. For sexual health – which is every
youth desire , Outercourse should be considered to
reduce sexually transmitted diseases and
Unwanted pregnancy.

http://m.plannedparenthood.org/mt/

www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-
control/outercourse-4371.htm?
un_jtt_v_expand=7#un_q7

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Categories: HIV
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RED

On Thursday April 10th, 2014 the Senate of the Nigerian National Assembly passed the HIV and AIDS Anti-Stigma and Discrimination Bill.  This Bill seeks to prevent the stigmatization of and discrimination against those living with or affected by HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.  It seeks to protect their human rights and dignity, while encouraging those that are infected to declare their HIV status in a more friendly community and country. If this bill is signed into law, it will become illegal for banks to firing a person living with HIV or for universities to conduct HIV testing as part of its routine medical examination for incoming students. To most people reading this, it seems that there should be no contention in the passage of the bill. However this bill has been introduced in the national assembly since 2006, so you can definitely understand the excitement from HIV and AIDS advocates in Nigeria.

Working for a youth focused organization, Education as a Vaccine (EVA), we were not initially concerned about this new piece of legislature.  As far as we were concerned, the bill was developed to protect the rights of HIV positive employees against institutions that terminated employment on the basis of HIV status.  We thought this bill had nothing to do with young people!  This assumption was not totally unfounded, as the process to develop the bill was led by the Federal Ministry of Labour, as a strategy for addressing workplace related violations.  It was not until 2009, when Gloria a young girl living with HIV, came to volunteer with EVA that we realised the importance of the bill.

“I was denied admission after passing all the requirements into university, because I tested HIV positive… They said I was a threat to the other students and so my admission was withdrawn…” These words from Gloria was the motivation to learn more about the new proposed law.  Working with Gloria and other young people, we reviewed the content of the draft bill and saw that there was no reference to the issues of young people.  Especially on the issues of mandatory HIV testing by education institutions; denial or withdrawal of school admission and treatment of HIV positive learner, who had disclosed their status, different in the school settings.  For example, some institutions could refuse to provide HIV positive students with accommodation on campus or created excluded areas of HIV positive students in dining hall.  As crazy as this might sound, these are opinions of some individuals, including students, who have justified these notions under the basis of protecting the “masses” from the epidemic.

In 2009, we launched the RED CARD[i] campaign to call for an end to HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination in Nigerian schools by urging legislators to pass the bill with the inclusion of the youth specific recommendations.  The bill was passed by the House of Representative on October 2010.  We chronicled our experiences with this process in an article published by the Participatory Learning and Action journal edition 64 under the title What business do youth have in making HIV and AIDS laws in Nigeria?Since 2009, it has been an overwhelming process, as the bill was not prioritised in national assembly. A country with the 2nd highest HIV burden and an estimated 3.4 million people living with HIV and AIDS as at 2012. So we can put this number into perspective, 3.4 million is more than the total population of several African countries, including Gabon and Namibia (approximately 2.2 million and 2.1 million respectively).  It was not until 2012 that we saw some attempts by the national assembly to move the process of passing the bill. This was partially due to the new leadership of the Senate Committee on Health and the House Committee on HIV and AIDS, Senator IfeanyiOkowa and Representative Joseph Kigbu.  These two legislators were more open and willing to take inputs from advocates, especially young people, which provided the needed platform for us to get our recommendations considered.   An example was our participation in the public hearing on the bill organized by the Senate Committee on Health, where our youth advocate group made an oral presentation about the issues of mandatory HIV testing, stigma and discrimination faced by young people living with HIV and AIDS. Read more about the public hearing and the youth advocate group in our 2013 annual report.  

 

The passage of the bill is a major excitement for us at EVA but what is even more moving is the fact that there are references to young people in the bill. Although the final version of the bill passed by the Senate is not yet available to advocates, media reports including one from the Punchstates an actual recommendation made by EVA and young people. “It further made it an offence for any educational institution, private or public, to demand HIV / AIDS testing as part of its routine medical testing requirements for admission or accreditation of learners.”

While this is a significant gain, we know that the battle is not yet over. For the bill to become a law, both arms of the legislative arm must harmonize their individually passed bill.  We will continue to follow up on both the leadership of the Senate and House of Representative Committee to make sure that the recommendations we have made make it to the final bill.  Once the reconciliation of these bills is completed, we need to ensure that the President signs it into law. Given the pace for which other human rights related bills have been passed, we hope this bill will not suffer any further delays.


[i] In football, misconduct may result in the player either receiving a caution from the referee

(indicated by a yellow card) or being dismissed from the field (indicated by a red card).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: HIV
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Thoughts at puberty”

Thoughts may come and go,
And minds made decisive,
Mates may stay to cuddle,
And tears cease to stop,

http://reverbednothesblog.wordpress.com/category/poetry-sex-ed/

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I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there\’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.

I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.

I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an \”Advocate\”.

I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
\”A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all\”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)

I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.

I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.

I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.

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I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.

I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.

I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an “Advocate”.

I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
“A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)

I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.

I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.

I am an “Advocate For Youth”.

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Whenever I tell people that I work for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago doing HIV prevention, they seem to be taken aback: they seem perplexed to think of children, kids, and adolescents as being HIV positive or even at risk. In the United States, the conversation surrounding HIV prevention has typically been focused on older, white, gay men, and bringing youth into the conversation always makes people do a mental double-take. In all honesty, I always look forward to these conversations because it reminds me of when I first read about the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and HIV Prevention of Lurie Children’s and got involved with HIV prevention with youth.

Riding the train and browsing my USA Today app en route to my night class at DePaul University, where I am pursuing my master’s degree in women and gender studies, an article referencing the Center caught my eye. After glancing at the article, I was truly taken aback when I saw that a center working out of a children’s hospital focused on HIV prevention. While I knew that members of the LGBTQ community are more at risk for HIV infection, I never considered how that would affect LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ youth of color. LGBTQ youth are at greater risk for homelessness, poverty, and lack of access to sexual health education that is inclusive of their sexual orientation and gender identity. I wondered how a young, transwoman would pay for costly antiretroviral therapy (HIV medication) in light of the existing structural barriers preventing her from adequate medical care in the first place. It was on that train that I knew I wanted to get involved with the Center and use my energy to work with communities most at risk for HIV infection. As data manager, I use my research skills to program our data collection instruments as well as provide analyses of our novel behavioral prevention interventions. Each day brings a new challenge that helps us work towards our goal of providing excellent HIV care to youth that need it.

Ultimately, I am involved in HIV&AIDS work because we, as youth need to be. I am involved because 1 in 4 new cases of HIV infection occur among young people. I am involved because young black men who have sex with men and young trans individuals are especially at risk. I am involved because if I want to live in an AIDS-Free Generation, I need to be.

Categories: HIV
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LetsGoButton

Are you looking for ways to participate in National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day? Here are 5 easy ways to get to you started!

Get tested for HIV! Find a testing center in your area here: http://aids.gov/locator/.

1.Join NYHAAD Youth Ambassador Wesley and Advocates’ NYHAAD Coordinator Sulava Gautam-Adhikary on April 10 at 5:30 PM EST on HUFFINGTON POST LIVE for a convo on the impact of HIV on young people.

2.

3.Participate on social media! Follow NYHAAD on Facebook and Twitter using @YouthAIDSDay and #NYHAAD! And join us on TONIGHT at 6:00 PM EST on the NYHAAD Facebook for a live chat on HIV.

Here are some sample tweets that you can use leading up to and on #NYHAAD:

  • Invest in young people! Support National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day! 4/10 @YouthAIDSDay #NYHAAD
  • We support National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day for an AIDS-free generation. #NYHAAD http://bit.ly/16W39nX @YouthAIDSDay
  • Every month 1,000 young people acquire HIV. Let’s invest in young people! Join National Youth HIV& AIDS Awareness Day 4/10. #NYHAAD
  • Know your HIV status. Find a testing site near you http://bit.ly/16W39nX #NYHAAD
  • Want to get involved for National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, April 10? Here’s a toolkit: http://ow.ly/vvW5v #NYHAAD @YouthAIDSDay

4.Download and share fact sheets from the CDC and Advocates for Youth.

5. Share these new infographics on what young people need to get to an “AIDS-free generation”.

Take a selfie with this sign and tell US what YOU think young people need to get to an “AIDS-free generation”. Download the photo campaign poster here.

Let’s go!

Tweet now!I support National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day for an AIDS-free generation. #NYHAAD http://bit.ly/16W39nX @YouthAIDSDay

 

tweet-now-toutWant to get involved for National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, April 10? Here’s a toolkit: http://ow.ly/vvW5v #NYHAAD @YouthAIDSDay

Categories: HIV, NYHAAD
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Many a time, I have tried to survey and parry the questioning effect on sex and its constituent. I believe it is a redefined commitment entitled to both parties ( man & woman ) on a divine standard.
The world we live in today define sex as a ‘social commitment’, which is a taboo to fundamental notions displayed from old.
Afore, Sex, occurs after a marriage right is fulfilled – which connects a man and a woman together perfectly. Today, sex, is now seen as an avenue to satisfy common urge.

* some say we should have sex to satisfy ourselves and set our burdens at ease.
* others say, when you feel the urge get someone to have sex with. And a girlfriend should serve as a friend with benefits.

Notion :
Sex is good and fun in the making, not to be confused with a Mutual Engagement between a male and a female. There are so many medical attributes linked to sex – one dominant property I know of is a reduction in emotional pressure or tension, resulting from ‘Anxiety’.

If we define sex on the basics of mutual engagement, then it is the right for every one (Adolescence,Teen,Youth and Adult), to have sex.
We have a situation where a boy of 16, gets a girl pregnant,at the expense of the so-called love. And the girl demands for an abortion or decides to conceive the child due to having sex at the wrong time.

Note :
There’s an increase in Abortion, Unwanted pregnancy and a retardation in fundamental growth of boys and girls. Most people who see sex as a social commitment end up having a bad experience, because they capitalise on the lust of satisfaction, instead of seeking to understand the reason for IT.

In most homes where a man considers sex more than his wife, there’s a high tendency for an upheaval of distrust to occur – which will massively dwindle their growth. Most who youths originated from these homes have become the heir of most illegal acts displayed in the world.
There’s an increase in divorce rate,children from this background become prone to harsh circumstance etc.

Youths who lack parental care and control end up doing irrational things, having unprotected and unwanted sex and other juvenile act.

I believe that if a minimum of 15% of youths are taught :

* Pre-sex affair and its influence.
* The fundamentals of sex education,
* Health education and its relation to sexuality.

Then change can commence.

My question :

* How do we educate boys and girls in : Developing and under-developed countries on sex education.

Proposed Query :

80% of youths living in these areas, constitute to the progression of illegal sex and the un-demanded notion it dictates.

Proposed Answer :

* I believe that changing the dialogue of sex affair is on great step .

Educating Youths on :
– what sex is ?
– why is sex needed ?
– what are the effects of sex on life ?
– who are the right persons to have sex ?
– And the required age for sex ?

* A notion I surveyed recently is doing a Poetry on sex-education : which will play a huge role in schools ( High school mostly, in rural and localised areas ).

In localised areas where there’s a gargantuan growth in sex rate, only few schools teach Sex education and a handful of these schools practise it.
– At locations where there are no computers for learning, no Adverts on sex-Ed, no Online orientation, and no seminars and outlets for diverse learning , an introduction to a reformed part of learning on sex education will help.

If we have a preamble poetry on sex education, health and orientation in under-developed areas, then we can help shape most of the questioning we have.

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Sometimes I ask myself questions : questions which are ever aching and proving stubborn to define or understand. I can’t recall the last time; a friend ,organization or social community discussed the affair of Youth Development via Sex Education and the threat it poses to Humanity and its affair.

In America there’s a flexible, progressive link for Sex development. Although not perfect but better than what we have here in Nigeria. At most case I have wondered why we are still in the loop hole ; a pit filled with ill-fated people who only acknowledge the receipt of their welfare.

The role of sex Education , is to foster a spontaneous change in : Sexuality, Heterosexual-conscience,Attitude and also promote a Beneficial role in Moral and Value. Youths , (especially boys), will massively grow in self esteem as it will tremendously shape Thoughts and increase a positive intake in Sex orientation and Education.

Educating people on Pre-sex Affair which is the Basics for a good foundation on Youth sexuality, will change lives. What we fail to understand is our, ” inability to Define what Sex Education and the Orientation it has on Youths”.

Sex education is instruction on issues
relating to human sexuality, including
human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.

sex education is defined as a vital public health strategy – which will play a role in the Reduction of STDs : By initializing Health centers, Health tips, Options (Gadget) and Orientation. And will also diminish an increase in Abnormal Behaviors displayed by Youths (Boys mostly) ; which are ,Bullying, Coercion and Discrimination). If Every youth know the basics (i.e, its preventive methods (Abstinence), techniques, and Healthy tips) then we can have a possible outbreak of change in Heterosexuality.

I believe that when people become enormously aware of their Sexuality and how it tends to : Affect, Diminish and Increase STATUS’, we will begin to see change – Fundamentally, Socially and Mentally in schools, society, Environment and the world at large.

Starting with schools – which is a great idea, is one profound step. Advocating Sex-ed in public places, outlets like Seminars, NGO programs and other governmental aids will contribute too.

We need to spread the word which is a,”PROMOTION ON SEX-ED” in schools, outlets, Rural and Urban sphere and other geographical locations.

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stds

Sex in general is phenomenon of creation of new life through love and affection. It is a part of life and happiness as it makes two soul one. But sex at present is not a mere system for fomenting a life. This has divided sex into a safer one, hygienic sex and unhygienic sex.
Unhygienic sex has been responsible for permeation of sexually transmitted infection in this world. starting from Gonorrhea, Syphilis many newer infection has been arose in the present world such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV),Chlamydia, Hepatitis, Herpes-Genital, HIV/AIDS, Human Papilloma virus (HPV)
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), Infertility, Trichomoniasis etc. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are caused by infections that are passed from one person to another during sexual contact by means of sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, anal sex and oral sex. . Some of these disease lack symptoms as other medical diseases generally have and they are very common.
Safer sex practice is the only major way to prevent oneself form these disease which should also include a care of self genital hygiene. The most effective way to prevent sexual transmission of STIs is to avoid contact of body parts or fluids which can lead to transfer with an infected partner. Proper use of Contraceptives can also help on its prevention to certain level and use of Condoms can also be effective in most of the case. STDs test by both partner and regular health check up can be much better way to get away from STDs

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In the last week of February, the Myanmar government decided to not renew the license allowing Doctors Without Borders (commonly known by its French acronym MSF) to operate in the country. The suspension resulted from disputes over the organization’s aid to the Rohingya Muslim minority, in addition to MSF’s alleged role in escalating ethnic and religious tensions between the Rohingya and the Buddhist population. The humanitarian organization has operated in the country for 22 years.

MSF often provides the only medical care in displacement camps, including access to certain medicines the government does not fund. People living with HIV/AIDS will experience increased difficulties, as MSF was the main provider of HIV/AIDS drugs. More then 30,000 individuals received such medications from MSF and now face uncertainty in acquiring lifesaving therapies. [1] HIV/AIDS clinics in multiple states have closed already and MSF fears the impact will be devastating.

[1] http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/2/28/doctors-without-borderskickedoutofwesternmyanmar.html

Categories: HIV, International
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For the month of February, besides attending a Jack and Jill health fair in Fort. Lauderdale, I began my ‘Contraception Awareness Campaign.’  This project is an endeavor that will last for about 8 weeks at my attempt to get 200 people on my campus to learn something new about contraception. My goal is to peer educate at least 25 people every week while I table at my college.  (I will provide information like how to get contraception, the proper way to store them, comparative analysis between brands including breaking myths, as well as educating the importance of contraception in preventing pregnancy). In my first week, there were approximately 40-80 people in attendance and we collected 40 sign ups. The focus was ‘How well do you know your STI’s?’ Although many people came up and played our game, it took an engineering major to win the $25 It’s sugar gift card give-away!  Also around Valentine’s Day, I took part in hosting a love Workshop on my campus in order to educate the students on healthy relationships and contraception use. My passion for educating my peers on this controversial topic comes from recognizing the important role contraceptives play in people’s futures.  As an incredible philosopher once said “Neglect of an effective birth control policy is a never-failing source of poverty which, in turn, is the parent of revolution and crime.” —ARISTOTLE, Politics.

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Spatial Epidemiology…….for better and effective decision

Diversity on Spatial, environmental, physiological, political, and cultural and many others is the peculiarity of Nepal which directly correlates with the behavioral, ethical, developmental, educational and technological variation within the country. Health and especially when the case of transmitted disease comes the variation becomes the key factor to deal with that.

In Case of HIV and AIDS in Nepal, the trend of transmission of diseases is high among the people near the Indian border and also the peoples who return back from India. Similarly the case of Sexual and Reproductive rights, major remote areas of the country is the main source of the cases where people are uneducated and unaware for their rights. These are the simple two representative cases that I just considered but there are lots of such resembling the trend, pattern of the condition.

 

Advancement in geographic information systems, statistical methodology, and availability of high-resolution, geographically referenced health and environmental quality data can create extraordinary new opportunities to investigate, analyze and take appropriate decision about the environmental and other factors in explaining local geographic variations, trend, pattern and types of disease. They also present new challenges. Problems include the large random component that may predominate disease rates across small areas.

The foundation of effective decision making is the effective use of data. However, there is a journey that data must make before being used to support decisions. Data must be accurate and, for maximum utility, conform to standards. Data users must be thoughtful about their use of data, making sure to use only appropriate data and to consider fully the limitations of each data set they use.

Spatial epidemiology is the description and analysis of geographic variations in disease with respect to demographic, environmental, behavioral, socioeconomic, genetic, and infectious risk factors.

The  geographic  component  of  an  epidemic  is  an  important  one,  as  geography  not  only influences the spread of the disease, but also its treatment. Geography is an important factor in early attempts to understand an epidemic. IN the global response to the HIV epidemic, GIS provides an important tool in addressing such issues as areas of high transmission, most-at risk populations, access to services, and understanding the epidemiology of the disease.

Some Challenges

The issues surrounding HIV are complex. Risk of infection and receptivity to treatment can be affected by confounding factors such as poverty, gender, religion, and societal structure. Finding data sets that help explain the relationships among these factors can be challenging.

Finding such data sets that include a spatial component can be even more challenging. Not all HIV services are provided at a health facility.  Some services and programs are community based or mobile, and are not confined to one geographic location. This means that including a geographic identifier for them can be difficult.

A Sexually Transmitted Disease (ST D) program’s ability to effectively analyze data is critical for surveillance efforts.  Advancements in the us e of surveillance tools, such as visualization techniques, m a y lead to improved targeting of prevention an d intervention activities.  Since the 1990’s, interest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, an automated system for the capture, storage, retrieval, analysis and display of spatial data  (Clarkeetal), has increased within the public health community.  This technology allows use of data previously not easily accessible or used for public health surveillance, i.e. small geographic boundaries such as block groups, raster imagery, improved scalability, etc.   STD programs are increasingly finding that GIS can enhance surveillance activities by providing the ability to m a p, perform spatial analyses and assess health -related disparities and resources through time and space.  These types of analyses ma y often be viewed as added clues for disease surveillance efforts and are valued for their stimulating visual effects.  As such, presentations including maps of STD outbreaks, analyses and case reports have become meaningful resources f or disease surveillance, investigation and prevention activities.

Categories: HIV
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I just want people to understand that HIV and stds are so very real. I just want to help people in anyway I can.

Categories: HIV
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AIDS and Women
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a degraded immunological condition of people which includes various complex stages of HIV virus in human body. The cosmopolitan distribution of the virus has threatened the world since decades and the unknown physiological performance of HIV has made the disease as the most worked arena of Medicine and Pharmacology.
As AIDS permeated through the landscapes of the globe, women acquiring HIV also increased steadily. WHO had shown a data of 17.5 million women worldwide being infected with HIV by the year 2005. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) of US had estimated 10% inflation in the number of women getting HIV in the span of 2000-2004 while men being 7% only. One of the CDC article writes that at some point in women lifetimes, a round figure of 1 in 32 black\African American women will be diagnosed by HIV infection which is 1 in 106 in Hispanic\Latino women and 1 in 526 white women.
This increment in women population with HIV may be due to the unavailability of knowledge on risk factors in poorer African countries and a cause of male domination among female sex workers as well as among the society which has fostered disease among female. The fact of 15% HIV infected women being unaware of their status justifies above statement. While looking towards a more scientific cause, it is found that higher risk is possible in case of unprotected vaginal sex which is the major mode of disease transmission. Also unprotected anal sex is even more perilous than unprotected vaginal sex.


The statement that ‘the infection lacks any specific gynecological conditions linked’ is undisputedly true. But even if women do not encounter HIV during sex they may have unique problems complications such as:-
∞ Vaginal yeast infection
∞ Severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
∞ A higher risk of cervical cancer
∞ Bacterial vaginosis etc.
Perinatal transmission from mother to child during pregnancy, labor and delivery or breastfeeding makes women even more vulnerable with the disease due to the probability of HIV infected fetus or child after birth. Some HIV\AIDS medicines are found to harm the fetus in the womb.
American physiological centre admits that the AIDs has male centered approach for its diagnosis, treatment and care which has made it even more tough for female to cope with the disease and receive treatment appropriately. Also stigmatization is higher among women than men due to their dependency on men among poorer countries. so to initiate a change the disease should also be looked through gender perspective so that equitable access to medication and diagnosis is possible.

Categories: HIV
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Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Instead of writing statistical facts about HIV/AIDS in the Black community, I will share a personal story of overcoming my fear of getting tested.

I became sexually active during my junior year of college. I read everything I could about sex and contraceptives before my encounter with my first partner. The consequences of possibly getting pregnant, contracting an STI or HIV was a risk I definitely reduced by using condoms and birth control.

So why was I so fearful of getting tested for HIV several months later?

At this point, I was heavily involved in sexual health groups on campus and was a member of the great Young Women of Color Leadership Council (shameless plug). I was an educator, and an advocate for sexual health, but I couldn’t bring it to myself to commit to getting tested.

I felt like a hypocrite.

While promoting National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on campus three years ago, I told myself to stop living in fear and to get tested. I was nervous all day. I sat in class thinking all about my sexual health and history. Sure, I had been tested for STI’s like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis at my school’s health center, but I felt so sure that I couldn’t possibly be HIV positive…

And that’s where the issue lies. The idea that I was so sure, so confident, so affirming of my status, that I had delayed getting tested. In reality, I had no clue. I made myself believe that being HIV positive couldn’t happen to me!

Later that evening, I walked into the testing site and performed a rapid HIV test. Although it said rapid, it felt like forever to hear the results. The man I sat with was extremely consoling and helpful. We chatted about sexual health and the work we do in our communities. His passion and support helped me through the wait.

At last, I got my results. I was negative. A lot of things ran through my mind: relief, happiness, tears of joy, but also guilt.

I felt guilty that someone might go in there and not hear the same results I did. I also felt guilty that I spoke on such a mighty pedestal and pressured my peers to get tested for HIV when I was afraid myself.

The day I got tested was a learning lesson for me. As young people, we often feel that we are invincible. Regardless of my knowledge about sexual health, it’s my duty first to make sure that I know my status. I felt like I couldn’t get HIV, but in reality, it was a possibility.

Be confident in knowing your status through getting tested every 6 months. Do not hesitate to ask your partner if they’ve been tested either. DO NOT allow anyone to make you feel bad about questioning their sexual health history. Include condom use along with other forms of contraceptives.

I can confidently share this advice because I am following it myself.

It’s time for us to stop living in the unknown.

Peace and love,

Bree

 

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Are we (African Americans) afraid of knowing our status?

 

It is a fact that Black youth represent more than half of all new HIV infections. By black youth, I mean black men and women between the ages of 13 to 24. In looking at the statistic, I cannot help but wonder why?!  Are we afraid of getting tested and knowing our status? Or are we afraid of the medical community?

 

It then occurred to me that it is possible that many of us (African Americans) are afraid of the health care system. Stigma of healthcare in the Black community is apparent in our history. Here are a few examples, Tuskegee airman experiment and sterilization. In all of these cases, we were taken advantage of and led to believe we were receiving healthcare, when in actuality we were being treated as nothing more than guinea pigs. Because we were taken advantage of in the past, this has caused a lot of mistrust in the Black community towards healthcare to this day. Unfortunately, our mistrust towards the healthcare system ultimately hurts us in the end.  Our skepticism and suspicion towards healthcare prevents us from getting routine check-ups, annual exams, and getting tested for illnesses such as HIV. But what other factors inhibit us from getting tested?

 

The concept of “faith over medicine” also plays a role in inhibiting us from receiving healthcare. Sometimes, we tend to believe that having faith in God, that He can heal our illnesses. And I am in no way doubting that. However, I do think that we tend to pay attention to one aspect of the Bible and not the Bible in its entirety. We have to understand that “faith without works is dead”. Meaning, if we believe that we will be healed, but do nothing towards working to be healed, then we are setting ourselves up for failure. We must take an active role in maintaining and improving our health.  In order to help alleviate the “faith over medicine” concept, it is imperative that the black churches get involved in encouraging us to take charge of our health.

 

Skepticism towards healthcare and the concept of “faith over medicine” are a few factors that contribute to the low HIV testing rate in the Black community. But are these just excuses we make to avoid the stressful and anxiety causing process of being tested for HIV? I believe yes and no.  These concepts are valid for us. They are not something that we just fabricated in our minds. I believe; however, that we should rise above our fears and take the assertive approach to maintaining our health.

Categories: HIV
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In honor of Worlds Aids Day on December 1 each year. Know the basics of HIV and AIDS so that you can protect yourself.

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“Get the facts. Get tested. Get involved.”

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Walk into just about any grocery store, pharmacy, corner store, or health center, and you’ll find a multitude of condom choices: ultrathin, ribbed, warming sensation, twisted, large, colorful, flavored, etc. Most of these shops will have just about any condom you can imagine — except for the female condom.This World AIDS Day, it’s time to demand better access to female condoms.

Female condoms, also known as “receptive-partner condoms” or “internal condoms,” fill an important niche in contraception. As the only receptive-partner initiated contraceptive method that offers protection against STIs and HIV, many women consider the female condom a tool of empowerment. In some cases, women have been able to negotiate use of female condoms in cases where male condoms were unacceptable to one or both partners.

Even the mere fact that the female condom is another contraceptive option is a positive thing for sexual health. Research has fairly consistently shown that having more choices of contraceptive methods increases the number of protected sex acts. One study in particular found that offering female condoms along with male condoms also increased the total number of protected sex acts compared with offering male condoms alone.

Of course, a “protected sex act” is only as useful as the method itself, so it helps that female condoms are just about as effective as male condoms. The failure rate for perfect use of male condoms is 2%, and the failure rate for perfect use of female condoms is 5%.[1] Several small studies have shown that female condoms are at least as effective as male condoms at preventing the transmission of STIs. Female condoms also reduce the probability of HIV transmission by 97% per act. Unlike male condoms, female condoms also protect some of the external skin, possibly offering even greater protection against certain STIs transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

Beyond the clinical benefits, female condoms outshine male condoms in a few ways. Female condoms can be inserted a few hours before sex and don’t require an erection to put on, so they make for a sexual experience with less interruption. Even the materials themselves offer some advantages. The FC2, the only FDA approved female condom, is made with nitrile, which quickly warms to body temperature, providing a more natural sensation. It is lubricated with silicone, which is longer lasting and less sticky than water-based lubricant. Some people even report that the outer ring increases stimulation!

Despite being safe, effective, and pleasant to use, female condoms still only make up about 3.4% of condoms distributed worldwide.

It would be easy to assume that female condoms aren’t as common as male condoms because people don’t like them as much as male condoms, but that’s an oversimplification of a complicated problem. There are many barriers to increased use and availability of female condoms in the United States, including negative impressions of the first generation of female condoms, a self-perpetuating cycle of low use and lack of investment, and cumbersome FDA approval processes.[2]

The first generation female condom (FC1) was made out of polyurethane and had a very low acceptance rate. This was partially due to a lack of implementation planning, but users also complained about the texture, smell, noisiness, and uncomfortable outer ring of the FC1. However, these complaints do not translate to the FC2. People who used both generations found that the FC2 was better because “it was soft, not noisy, not painful, and did not have a bad smell.” Unfortunately, most of the available data about acceptability of female condoms focuses on FC1, and the reputation is lagging behind the improvements.

Regrettably, it’s difficult to increase the number of FDA approved female condom types due to the burdensome approval process. Male condoms get a pass because of a wonky FDA classification system.

This combination of forces makes it difficult for female condoms to gain traction. However, FC2 is faring far better than its predecessor thanks to a handful of citywide female condom education and distribution programs, improved training for health care providers, and wider marketing. Still, there are ways that you can help make female condoms more accessible.

What YOU can do 

  • Ask your pharmacy to stock female condoms. Hand your pharmacist this stock request card, and, if you want, include a personal message about why you think female condoms are important.
  • Talk about female condoms. Spread the word about why they matter, and kick misinformation to the curb.
  • Be an advocate. If you don’t live in a city with a female condom distribution program,[3] you can learn how to advocate for one by getting in touch with the National Female Condom Coalition. 

When it comes to safer sex, we should leave no method behind. Stand up for female condoms and help bring more attention to this effective and empowering contraception.

Learn more about FC2 and hear from real users at http://bedsider.org/methods/female_condom#how_to_tab


[1] Most of the available data for female condom failure rates focuses on the first generation female condom, but data provided to the FDA showed that the failure rate of the FC2 was equivalent to the first generation female condom.

[2] The problems are different in countries where more than one type of female condom is approved, but this post will focus on the United States.

[3] Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and D.C.

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(original image by The Stigma Project)

About them:

We are a grassroots organization that aims to lower the HIV infection rate and neutralize the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through education and awareness via social media and advertising. The Stigma Project seeks to create an HIV neutral world, free of judgement and fear by working with both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, or background.

Social media has rapidly become one of today’s largest mediums of news, culture, and education. We hope to embrace that with effective campaigns each season that bring awareness to the current state of HIV. Please, whether you’re HIV-positive, negative, or you don’t know (and should), we need your help. Ask your friends to join us in starting a revolution: an “HIV Neutral” revolution. Like us, Share us, Re-tweet us. The more people we reach, the more effective our project. The more successful our mission. YOU can make a difference.

Their mission:

The Stigma Project seeks to eliminate the stigma of HIV/AIDS on a global scale, through awareness, art, provocation, education and by inspiring a spirit of living “HIV Neutral.”

Their vision:

The Stigma Project seeks to create an “HIV Neutral” world, free of judgment, fear, discrimination and alienation by educating both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life about the constantly evolving state of the epidemic. We seek to reduce the HIV infection rate through knowledge, awareness, and effective marketing and advertising. Ultimately we see a future where the world is free of HIV/AIDS.

I’ve already posted this image before but without credit to the original poster, so here it is!  I’ve also added information about this organization!

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The 2014 National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) Youth Ambassador application is now open! Every year we mark April 10, as a day to educate and empower the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people as well as highlight the amazing work young people are doing across the country to fight the HIV & AIDS epidemic.

Now is your chance to join a dynamic group of young leaders and activists who come together to promote treatment, care, and youth empowerment.

“NYHAAD is an important day for youth to stand up, bring awareness and make our voices heard!” – Kimberly, 2013 NYHAAD Ambassador

Now is our time. NYHAAD ambassadors hold events in their campuses and communities, promote NYHAAD through social media, art, blogs and videos and will collaborate with other Ambassadors and Advocates staff on materials and resources to make NYHAAD known throughout the country!

Adults – please share this with two fantastic young people in your community!

The application deadline is November 8, 2014. Apply now!

Categories: HIV
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Last week, I couldn’t help but become angry and disappointed about an article about a fight between a man and a woman on an NYC subway that appeared on The Daily Dot.

The post, written by Gaby Dunn, featured a video of a subway prank fight staged by Zaida Pugh (who frequently does prank videos),  in which a woman fights with her boyfriend for “giving her AIDS”. Many people might be angry at the possibility of one person transmitting HIV to another person, or that someone would make a prank video to joke about this happening. However, this is not why I was upset.

What makes me angry is the blatant HIV stigma in both Pugh’s video and Dunn’s post on The Daily Dot. Though I am disappointed,  part of me does not blame them for these attitudes because unfortunately, HIV stigma is perpetuated by society as a whole. It’s important to address these attitudes, as HIV stigma prevents people from getting tested and/or entering treatment. Getting people tested and into treatment are important strategies for reducing the number of HIV infections and deaths from AIDS related complications. Not only this, but HIV stigma has dire consequences for people living with HIV. HIV stigma is an important public health issue. And this is why I think it should not be joked about in a prank video.

The phrase ‘giving someone AIDS’ appears multiple times throughout the article and the video, so I’d like to address that first. Just to be clear, you cannot give someone AIDS.

HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome, can be transmitted, not AIDS. HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, or the system in your body makes you better when you are sick, and keeps you from getting sick. Specifically, HIV attacks certain types of white blood cells called T-Cells or CD4+ cells.  It isn’t transmitted as easily as the common cold, and it can only be transmitted in select few ways, such as unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex, pregnancy and childbirth, or if one’s bloodstream is exposed to one of the body fluids that contain HIV (blood, semen, pre-ejaculatory fluid, breast milk, vaginal fluids).

AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. One develops AIDS if they are HIV positive, and have either very few T cells (less than 200/microliter of blood), or if they have an opportunistic infection.

Being diagnosed with HIV does not mean necessarily mean that someone will develop AIDS, nor does an HIV positive diagnosis indicate a death sentence or lifelong sickness. Someone living with HIV who knows their status and has access to care can live a long and relatively healthy life. (For those of you who are interested, I’ve written a more detailed  HIV 101.)

Basically, HIV isn’t the same as AIDS, and you can’t give someone AIDS. The false idea of “giving someone AIDS” is dangerous because it is misinformed, and it adds to the exaggerated fear that many people have about HIV/AIDS. When people think of AIDS, they think of sickness and death. Therefore, the image of a person with HIV or AIDS is one of negative, although it is known that people with HIV/AIDS are not necessarily sick, and that a person with HIV does not necessarily look a certain way.

As I said before, HIV stigma is a public health issue, but it also ruins lives, and in some cases it kills.

We know that HIV stigma and discrimination causes people to lose their jobs, their families, their communities, and has many other effects on people’s lives. We know that in many US states, HIV transmission is criminalized, even when the person did not know they were positive, or the virus was not actually transmitted. In addition, many governments have restrictions on travel and stay for those living with HIV. In the US, people living with HIV were banned from traveling to the country until 2010.

Gaby Dunn writes “If that guy truly gave her AIDS, then he’s lucky she didn’t do worse than yell at him on the train…hopefully the woman in the video doesn’t really have HIV. But if she does, that scumbag dude got off easy.” To me, this quote is very troubling, given that people living with HIV, especially women, suffer from high rates of violence. What exactly does Dunn mean when she says that he’s lucky that she didn’t do worse? Does she mean that he should have been murdered as was Cicely Bolden, a 28 year old mother who was murdered for revealing her status?

The idea that people living with HIV should be punished criminally or by violence, is not only deadly, but it is driven by misinformation. Having HIV does not make someone a bad person, dirty, or a monster. It does not mean that the person has done anything immoral. Around the world, there are 34 million people living with HIV. Do they not deserve the right to be treated with dignity and respect just like everyone else? I don’t think that most people are aware that most of what they know about HIV/AIDS is misleading and stigmatizing, and I don’t think that the creator of the video realized these problems when she decided to do this prank. There are many people who, unfortunately due to ignorance, have similar prejudices towards people with HIV.

My hope is that people educate themselves on why HIV stigma is a problem, and what we can do to end it.

Here are a few resources if you are interested in learning more:

The Stigma Project (where you can find the image above and many others related to HIV stigma)

AVERT: HIV & AIDS Stigma and Discrimination

UNAIDS: Eliminating Stigma and Discrimination

 

Keziyah Lewis is a queer feminist and reproductive health and rights advocate living in Washington, DC. You can find her on Twitter @KeziyahL.

 

Categories: HIV
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August 2013 is the beginning of my second year as a Broward County Youth Council member. This year will be bitter sweet for  me because I am aging out. I am extremely excited for what this year has to bring. All of the hard work we did last year is slowly coming to fruition. I am excited to see how everything falls into place regarding comprehensive sex ed in the Broward County school system. This year we have a few new members and I am anxious to work with them on our upcoming projects. This year will be EPIC for me. I plan on having a blast. Urban Retreat is s quickly approaching and I am ready to learn new techniques and tools that will help me be a better advocate. This year will definitely be a memorable one.

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Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog.  It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr.  Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10.  And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session.  Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal.  Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education.  No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active.  If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!

The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:

I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.

Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!

My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice.  My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both.  I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources.  I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives.  Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me.  What’s your vision for sex ed?

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HIV test is not a test for AIDS. What it does is test for the HIV virus that causes AIDS. If you have positive it means that you have HIV and are able to infect others. If you know that you have HIV, early treatment can protect your health. Those with HIV can add years and quality to their lives by getting help early. You can weigh the benefits of having children, knowing you have HIV; a positive result means that you have HIV and that you can infect others. It does not mean that you have AIDS. Those with HIV can live with good health for many years with no signs of illness. If you are a woman who tests positive, talk to your doctor about the risks, as HIV can be passed to the baby during pregnancy, at birth, or through breast milk. We know that media plays important role they should help us to advice people most especially the young people should go for HIV test and the government should help in passing the anti- stigma bill

Categories: HIV
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In 2008, I was denied admission by a university in Nigeria because of my HIV status which is positive, since then this university and some other ones have been conducting a compulsory HIV test.  It is not legal and morally right for a school established by a religious organization that has been at the fore front of fighting the AIDS pandemic as well as tuberculosis and malaria. Not only that, it has been at the vanguard of empathically dealing with the less-privileged by showing love and care, so it is not right for a school founded by such body to be seen in stigmatizing people who have one form of medical condition or another especially HIV/AIDS.  Would Christ have done what they are doing?  I was brought up by a catholic and that is why I was dumbfounded when the school denied me admission. Even as I write, this is still a practice by the University authorities.  I don’t know if people living with HIV and AIDS don’t have the right to be given admission into their school, or have the right to live. Let’s assume we are their brothers and sister – are they going to abandon us? In my own opinion HIV test should not be mandatory or compulsory for the student because it’s a confidential issue. Perhaps the Pope should call them to order. At least people that are positive live healthier than those who are HIV negative.

I insist that stigmatization should be stopped in all institutions of learning that are shutting their gates to prospective students who they illegally subject to the humiliating exercise of conducting all manner of tests on and eventually denied admission when they are found to have a manageable health situation.

This I felt I should share with the world through this platform as it happened to me. I am a victim and I have decided to share my true life story and urge institutions especially educational ones to stop compulsory blood and medical tests or examinations they subject students to because honestly I don’t know why and what my medical condition got to do with me pursuing my right to education, above all let’s stop this discrimination and stigmatization, hoping also that lawmakers will pass the anti-stigma bill as soon as possible.

Categories: HIV
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If you haven\’t seen Tyler Perry\’s “Temptation: Confession of a Marriage Counselor”, then I suggest you stop reading! *Spoilers Ahead* This movie tackles many issues including adultery, domestic abuse, drug abuse, and most importantly HIV. Jurnee Smollett plays Judith, a woman with many inner struggles who ultimately leaves her husband for a rich and sophisticated drug addict who dopes her up, beats her, and gives her HIV. The movie does an excellent job of sharing the fact that no one \”looks\” like they have HIV, because it could be anyone. I encourage you to see this film and start a discussion with your friends about HIV. For more quick information on HIV, text SEXT to 74574.

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If you are a young person interested in HIV/AIDS issues, I encourage you to join the C2EA youth group on Facebook. They blog, post articles and try to mobilize young people in the field. Every year they host a Youth Action Institute. For more on this, see my previous blog. They also have different working groups corresponding to many different issues within the field. So go join them and get involved!

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Recently I was selected to attend the Campaign to Ends AIDS youth action institute. They selected youth from all over the country to come to Boston for a week long training. At the end of the week, the group was to initiate an action in the Boston area. In my opinion, this was one of the best conferences that I’ve ever attended! We were forced to completely come out of our shell and come together for LGBTQ youth housing in Boston. Stay tuned for my documentary of the trip.

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When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”

Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!”  State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this.  But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.

There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident.  Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things.  You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in.  It’s not just one old, white male politician.  It’s several.  And they’re not necessarily always white men.

Brace yourself.  This is pretty triggering.

“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”

— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”

— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.

“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”  —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.

“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”

—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.

“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”

—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.

“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.

This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth.  The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education.  It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life.  And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen.  So, we advocate for the youth.  We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.

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Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.

The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise

  1. Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
  2. Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
  3. Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.

After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and  leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.

The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.

On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.

 

 

About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)

Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.

With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.

The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:

  1. “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
  2. “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
  3. “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.

As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).

Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.

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All too often our stories are told for us. Last week, I had the honor of presenting to members of congress, their staff and other people in the reproductive health and rights field during a congressional briefing with Black Women’s Health Imperative. I took this opportunity to use my voice as an African American young person to tell anyone listening that we Millennials are not only invested in creating change but we are committed to making sure our generation can lead healthy lives. Read what I had to say! 

As a member of Advocates for Youth’s Young Women of Color Leadership Council, I have been organizing and advocating around the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people for the last 5 years. I am dedicated to this work not only because I believe that young people like me deserve the right to lead healthy, self-determined lives, but also because I know first-hand what it is like to navigate this world without access to accurate and honest education and services.

At 23 I can say that I never received any type of formal sexual education from any educational institution I attended. The first time I was tested for HIV happened completely by accident. One day during my junior year in high school I wandered into a mobile testing unit in hopes of receiving a free metrocard. That would be the first day I would find out about HIV and other STIs. The woman conducting my test asked me if I was nervous and I proceeded to tell her no and then asked her would I have a reason to be. She began to explain sexually transmitted infections and diseases to me. Thus giving my first “sex education class” in the back of a mobile testing unit. Although my results that day revealed that I was not HIV positive, I remember feeling like someone had robbed me. I felt cheated. Lied to. I could not fathom at that time how learning about preventing diseases that could potentially make you sick and claim your life were not as important as math and science. The even more depressing part is that even when I went to college many of my peers were still uneducated about their sexual health, and how prevent HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancies. I began wondering whether we all needed to wander aimlessly into a mobile testing truck to learn about saving our lives.

As leader of a campus organization that provided sexual health information specifically geared toward Black and Latino students at Syracuse, it became more and more clear to me that I was not the only person who had been robbed. Some of our campus events attracted over 200 young people interested in learning about what they could do to lead sexually healthy lives. Many of these young people expressed that they felt that this is something that should be taught in school, by the administration. They were not alone.

Not only do African American Millennials believe that comprehensive sexuality education should be available to young people in high school, overwhelming majority, over 90% believe that it should include information about preventing HIV/AIDS and other STDS, unplanned pregnancy prevention, and abstinence. Over 80% also believe that comprehensive sex education programs in high school should cover information about pregnancy options including abortion.

Many of the young people I worked with in college constantly spoke about the barriers, many financial, to accessing contraception and abortion services. Research shows that over 90% of African American Millennials believe that contraception needs to be available and affordable to help young people stay healthy. 75% of African American Millennials believe that regardless of how they feel personally, abortion should remain legal and that women should be able to get safe abortions.

There is still much to be done to ensure that young people like myself have access to medically accurate and culturally competent information regarding their sexual health, and we young people across the country are working diligently and organizing to make it happen.. While the media and other people are committed to portraying my generation as apathetic and removed from this type of work, I can insure you that those statements are indeed false. In fact, according to research conducted by the Reproductive Justice Communications Group and Advocates for Youth, over 7 in 10 of African American millennials say they are interested in improving young people’s access to sexual health services such as contraception and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. 7 in 10 expressed interest in getting personally involved in promoting honest and accurate sex education programs in their communities. Another 6 in 10 are personally interested in making sure that safe abortion is available and accessible in their community. We African American Millennials are interested and committed to helping our friends, our families and our communities access services and information to live healthy, autonomous lives.

Here’s video of my remarks at the briefing!

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Wow our right have been heard.

I was glad when I was called upon in Education as a Vaccine (EVA) to be part of the young people that were to attend the public hearing on the 4th of June, 2013 at the National assembly, which was on Tuesday morning. Senator Ifeanyi okowa, the chairman committee on health started with an opening remark introducing “The bill for act to make provision for the prevention of HIV discrimination and to protect the human rights and dignity of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and others related matters”. The first presentation was made by the Nigerian Police Force, cp of police and chairperson of the Nigerian Police Force committee on HIV/AIDS. There paper was against establishing the law, as they don’t recruit people living with HIV/AIDS. They carry out compulsory testing when recruiting new officers, as it is in line with UN standards. Other organizations present were in support of the bill and the impact it would have on the society, they were appealing to the president to ensure speedy passage of the bill. The Youth Advocate Group of Education as a Vaccine (EVA) wrote a memorandum on why young people’s issues should be captured in the bill and young people should be named as entities in the bill, since they are the portion of the population most affected by HIV/AIDS. The chairman committee on health, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa was impressed with the presentation and promised to look through the memorandum with the committee and include the rights of young Nigerians. The programme ended successfully. what do you all think about this?

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Nigeria is the most populous Black nation in Africa and in the world. The Northern Part of Nigeria is highly populated compared to the west and south. Some say this is because majority of northerners are uneducated. As a young northern girl, I find it very difficult to strongly advocate for family planning commodities especially for young people. This is because my culture doesn’t encourage it. I was raised to believe that contraceptives are wrong and that the place of a girl is in the home and not in school. Well a lot has changed since then, and I think the world has a lot to benefit from me beyond the home.

In my own opinion, with the level of exposure to quality information that I have gained from a youth led NGO where I volunteer, I support family planning. I believe every woman should have the right to reproductive health care and services particularly family planning commodities and ante-natal care.

It is also very important to mention that the health condition associated with child birth is also very poor. This is common in rural areas in Africa where there are little or no facilities, compared to other developed countries. The rate at which child mortality and maternal mortality is increasing in Nigeria without a corresponding improved medical facilities and man power to tackle it is really worrisome.

I believe that one of the best solutions is for our government and policy-makers is to invest more money in reproductive health care and services through providing adequate man power, infrastructural facilities and commodities. I appreciate the government for making contraceptives free, however there is a lot more costs attached to accessing this commodities, so where are we?

If we must make a change, let’s make one that would be worth the while.

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In honor of National HIV Testing day, a video was created to encourage everyone to get tested and know your status!

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Texas Lawmaker Says Sex Ed Makes Teens ‘Hot and Bothered’ Leads to Sex and Babies

The Texas house recently passed an extreme bill that could force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close. Many of the debates over the bill were heated, but one of the more interesting ones started last Tuesday night after a house committee vote was over and three members of the committee had a conversation that was audio-taped by a reporter for theHouston Chronicle. In that conversation, Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) pointed out to two of her Republican colleagues, Reps. Steve Toth (The Woodlands) and Bill Zedler (Arlington), that sex education that includes information about contraception can help prevent unintended pregnancies, and therefore can reduce the number of abortions that are performed. Toth was quick to disagree about the merits of sex education.

READ MORE HERE.

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After recognized the first case in 1981 to 2009, Globally, Total no of people living with HIV was 33.4 million, among them 31.3 million were adult male, 15.7 million were women and 2.1 million were children. In 2008, 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV and 2.0 million deaths of people were due to AIDS. Every day, worldwide over 6800 person become infected with HIV and over 5700 person die from AIDS, mostly because of inadequate access to HIV prevention and treatment services . From 2001 to 2009, HIV incidence has fallen by more than 25% but in seven countries, five of them in Eastern Europe & central Asia, HIV incidence increased more than 25%. Several factors are associated to make HIV epidemic worse some of the important factors are stigma and discrimination, lack of access to services and bad laws .

By the year 2009, estimated no of people living with HIV in Asia were 4.9 million and estimated no of death due to AIDS related causes were 300,000 in 2009 which is little higher than the estimated no of death in 2001 i.e. 250,000. There was approximately 20% reduction in HIV new infection in Asia which was 450,000 in 2001 to 360,000 in 2009.

HIV epidemic in Asia is largely concentrated among the injected drug user (16%), MSM and sex workers. In India, Nepal and Thailand there was some progress in reducing the incidence rate of new HIV infection by more than 25% between 2001to2009 8.

After the appearance of HIV in Nepal in 1988 to 2011, epidemic in the country has gradually evolved from ‘low prevalence’ to ‘concentrated epidemic’. By the year 2011 HIV prevalence was 0.30% among (15-45) year people. Most high risk populations of Nepal are PWID (people who inject drug), MSM (men who have sex with men) and FSW (Female sex workers). With this, male labor migrants and client of sex workers in Nepal are playing the role of bridging population that are transmitting infection to low risk general population. In Nepal, 80% of HIV infection is transmitted through heterosexual transmission. By 2011, total 50,200 estimated people were living with HIV and increasing number of infection was being recorded among low risk general population. Estimated HIV infection in, PWID( 2.2%), MTCs(7.2%), MSM (14.4%), FSW(1.5%), client of FSW(27%), Remaining male population (16%), Remaining female population(27.3%). Overall HIV prevalence among adult (15-49) began declining gradually from around 2006 .

Due the growing population rate and high rates of unemployment in several countries can be the source of pressure on the local economy and emigration is often seen as a part of viable solution. A significant number of migrant workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal and Philippines migrated to Malaysia and Singapore. However temporary labor migration towards the middle-east and in Particular, the Gulf Co-operation council countries represented the dominant flow . According to the Studies conducted in migrants and non-migrants male of Kailali and Ahcham district have revealed that international migrants are at high risk of contracting STI and HIV infection. The study found that 7.7% who went to Mumbai from Achham District were HIV positive and in migrants from the mid-western region who went to Mumbai had 8% HIV prevalence .

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Nepal known as the homeland for about 26.4 million with diversity in culture, religion, caste and ethnicity. Nepal is also known as an underdeveloped nation where still 21% are dwelling under the poverty line with the earning of less than $2 a day and these 21% are regarded as backward community in Nepal who are ignored by rest of the world within and outside the Nepal.

Today I am going to talk about the status of HIV/AIDS in Nepal and its journey of progress in this field. It is not so far when Nepal first recognized the HIV for the first time that was in 1988, for the moment Nepal government started working for the prevention and control of HIV in the country. A 12 point policy on HIV/AIDS prevention and control was developed in 1995 and is under implementation. The policy was been made but was unable to craft effective change in its status. MDGs also focused on HIV/AIDS which was regarded as boon for Nepal because when the issue came globally, a large amount of donation, grants were flooded in Nepal but even though the change was still the same that is not effective. In 1995 total infected person with HIV was about 20,000 which increased to 1, 80,000 in 2005 with the increase in population and also with the increase of foreign grants which was provided to make control but was unable answer. In 2011, there were approximately 50,200 adults and children are living with HIV in Nepal, with an estimated overall prevalence of 0.30% among the adult (15-49 yrs) population. The prevalence of HIV infection among adult (15-49 yrs) males (58%) and females belonging to the reproductive age group( 28%) was the highest, whereas children age under 15 yrs accounted for approximately 8% of the total infected population in 2011. We can say that we are still lacking behind the progress and also behind the time to make people aware about it.

Now let us analysis the data between 2010 and 2012 in Nepal. IN 2010, the knowledge about HIV were about 43.6% and 27.6% among male and female respectively which was changed to 33.9% and 23.8% among male and female respectively in 2012. Within two years we can easily find the gap about the level of awareness about the HIV at the same time let us see the amount that is spent in this field. The total amount that was spent in 2010 was $17.6 million which increased to $20.45 million in 2012. But the level of awareness was decreased. It was supposed to increase the rate of awareness but it went down with about 10% in Nepal and 5.2% in female. Even if the grants are increased up to about $2.85 million. Now the question that comes into my mind is that where did the money go? Who mobilized the money and what did they do?

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So lately I have been on a health kick. I partake in so many things to try to get to my goal weight. Green smoothies, juicing, exercise, detoxes, weight loss challenges, you name it. This health binge that I’m on is basically like a whole new lifestyle. Today while I was in the gym I noticed there were many other dedicated individuals who were working hard towards what ever goal they wished to achieve. As I sweat bullets on the elliptical I though to myself that if people where as concerned about their sexual health as they were with their physical health there would be a significant change in the number of sexually transmitted diseases. There are individuals who dedicate hours in the gym each day, eliminate carbohydrates from their diet, and even refrain from eating meat to be “healthier” but do not even know their HIV status. Obviously, there is a disconnect somewhere. Your sexual health is just as, if not more, important as your physical health. We need to focus on the body as a whole and not only the outer part. Let’s start working out and getting our sexual health in shape. Knowing is half of the battle. Know your status, get tested, use protection, and spread the knowledge.

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“The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” AMA board member William Kobler said in a statement. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”

The AMA’s stance on amending the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in the U.S. falls in line with recent policy changes in other countries. Earlier this year Canadian Blood Services approved achange in policy that would allow gay men to donate blood if they have abstained from having sex with another man for five years prior to their donation. Additionally, other countries such as Australia and the U.K., require only a one-year window of deferral for sexually active gay men, while South Africa requires only a six-month period.

LINK: http://www.advocate.com/health/health-news/2013/06/20/american-medical-association-opposes-gay-blood-ban

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BREAKING NEWS: Today, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-2 that the Anti-Prostitution Pledge (or the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath—APLO) is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

As way of background, the APLO is a provision in PEPFAR’s authorizing legislation (our global HIV/AIDS program) which requires NGOs receiving PEPFAR funds to explicitly oppose prostitution and sex trafficking as a condition of receiving those funds.  The Court ruled that the government cannot do this because it requires NGOs to adopt the government’s viewpoint in violation of its free speech rights.  “The Policy Requirement goes beyond preventing recipients from using private funds in a way that would undermine the federal program. It requires them to pledge allegiance to the Government’s policy of eradicating prostitution.” Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion ruling the policy unconstitutional and was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor.

Justice Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion which was joined by Justice Thomas.  In their dissenting opinion, they stated that compelling the affirmation of a belief as a condition of funding is not compulsion, but “the reasonable price of admission to a limited government-spending program that each organization remains free to accept or reject.” In other words, if you don’t want to accept conditions on funding, don’t apply for the funding.

And, you’ll notice that the ruling was 6-2 so you’re probably wondering about the 9th Justice.   Justice Kagan recused herself from the case because she was involved in the lower court decision.

The case was brought by the Alliance for Open Society International, Pathfinder International, the Global Health Council, and InterAction.

This is a VERY good day for US foreign policy advocates!

You can read the opinion here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-10_21p3.pdf

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After 25 years, the Senate has finally voted to end the federal ban on research into organ donations from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients.

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The HOPE Act (HIV Organ Policy Equity Act) legislation would establish a review process in which the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary evaluates the progress of medical research into procedures that would allow transplants from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Senators from both sides of the aisle decided that the 1988 ban on even conducting research on transplants from HIV-positive donors was not only discriminatory, but also medically outdated. With recent medical advancements HIV-positive people are now living longer, and like other older Americans, are also developing medical conditions that require organ transplant. Medical experts estimate that the bill can help save over 1,000 lives every year.

The legislation will now move over to the House of Representatives where support from more democrats will prove crucial. If you can, call your representative and tell them to support H.R. 698.

Categories: Health Care, HIV
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EVE For Life was founded in 2008 in response to a dire need for support to women and children living with or affected by HIV and AIDS.
Women in Jamaica face the brunt of the epidemic as caregivers and breadwinners for infected husbands and children. Statistics show that women account for 42 per cent of cases in Jamaica. In the age group15 to 24 years old, infected women more than double the number of men.
Women and children are increasingly seeking psychosocial support and skills to help them to live normal lives. Eve for Life seeks to fill that gap.
EVE for Life was registered in February 2009 as a non- governmental organization (NGO) with charitable status.

last year I made a post about the amazing work they were doing and how much I loved the idea and will support their advocacy work with the launch of their Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) material around HIV and pregnancy prevention among teenage and young adults. But more recently Eve for life continues to build their movement with the aid of UNICEF Jamaica.

UNICEF handed over a new vehicle to Eve for Life, an NGO that supports teenage mothers and young women living with HIV, to help expand their outreach in rural communities.

The 2012 Suzuki APV wagon will serve as a major asset in Eve for Life’s long-term “I am Alive” programme in St. Ann and St. James, the two parishes with the highest HIV prevalence outside of Kingston. It will also allow the NGO to work in new communities.
Through counselling, mentoring and workshops the UNICEF-supported programme empowers girls and women aged 15-24 to cope with their challenges, take better care of themselves and their children, and learn about sexual and reproductive health.
“This van is already in great demand, and will be well used to do our work in other parts of the island,” said co-founder and Director of Programmes and Training, Joy Crawford. “We can now include several HIV-positive young mothers from western Jamaica in our programme, and we can do more home visits with our clients.”
Strong evidence indicates that young mothers across the island, including those who are HIV-positive, lack the information, resources and gender-specific support they need. Many have limited or no skills to parent their children and face discrimination in their homes, communities and public health facilities.
“Eve for Life has done an excellent job in filling the needs of an underserved population,” said UNICEF Representative Robert Fuderich. “We are thrilled to make this donation and confident that it will enrich their efforts”
CONGRATULATIONS EVE FOR LIFE!!

Categories: HIV
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“Together we can end HIV stigma, but we need to be able to TALK ABOUT IT. Share this graphic to continue the conversation and encourage your network of friends to speak up!”

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In an attempt to lower teen pregnancy rates, Chicago has implemented a thought provoking ad campaign. All over the city people are encountering billboards picturing pregnant young men.  While the images are powerful, I am uneasy about their message and effectiveness.

As seen above, the uniting message of these ads is, “Unexpected? Most teen pregnancies are. Avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Use condoms. Or wait.” While I applaud the Chicago Department of Health for not  promoting abstinence and safe sex practices, by imploring “use condoms” instead of “use protection” the message is a bit limited. Perhaps this campaign is solely targeted at males, in which condoms are the most effective form of protection. I know ads must cleverly summarize their message into a line or two, but this subject deserves a bit more expanding. Where’s the mention of how you must use condoms properly each time for them to work? Even just adding “every time” after “use condoms” would have gone a long way and perhaps subliminally started to engrain the consistency condom use requires. The ads lists the website www.beyoubehealthy.org which also only provides basic information on condoms, and no mention of other forms of birth control and sti-protection. A thorough, responsible education campaign should offer knowledge on all options.

I have always been a believer of the tenet that “scare tactics” do not work. Yes, they often provoke meaningful conversations, but their effectiveness has failed to be proven. Supporters claim similar ads resulted in a 10% drop in teen pregnancy in Milwaukee, however, it is difficult to isolate causality. I would love to see a campaign that sparks conversations about how to have safer sex without shaming teens in the process.

The Milwaukee campaign had nearly identical ads. I’m sure they were well-intentioned, but attached quite a bit of stigma to teen pregnancy in order to get their message across. Below, one of the ads claims that teen pregnancy is “disturbing”.

Attaching such charged words to teen pregnancy gives it a negative connotation, further shaming young parents or those debating what to do with their current pregnancy.  In addition, while I acknowledge this trend is decreasing, some young adults still do choose to have children and we should not push those people to the fringes of society.

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AIDS-related stigma and discrimination refers to prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV and AIDS. The consequences of stigma and discrimination are wide-ranging, or  being shunned by family, peers and the wider community, poor treatment in healthcare and education settings, an erosion of rights, psychological damage, and a negative effect on the success of HIV testing and treatment. However, no policy or law cans alone combat HIV/AIDS related discrimination. Stigma and discrimination will continue to exist as long as societies as a whole have a poor understanding of HIV and AIDS and the pain and suffering caused by negative attitudes and discriminatory practices.  ,  on the 4th of  June 2013, the senate committee on health held a grand public hearing,  On a bill for an act to make provision for the prevention of HIV discrimination and to protect the human right and dignity of people living with HIV and affected by AIDS and other related matters, the committee chairman senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa talked on the bill and the issues of stigmatization, the way people are been stigmatize and commented that people who are positive have equal right and are also citizens of Nigeria should have the right to health, This issue of discrimination has crossed beyond individuals and communities, in fact it is all over in Nigeria  most especially in work place  and those that are infected with the viruses, are not  employ  the commissioner of Police (CP)  said PLWHA cannot be employed  into the NPF as they said they need people who are physical fit and those living with HIV are not physical  fit to be employed due to their status . one more area of discrimination can be seen in the educational institution where so many people living with HIV are denied admission into the University of their choice because of their status, this is one of the reasons why Education as A Vaccine (EVA) youth focused Non Governmental Organization in Nigeria submitted a memorandum propose the addition of educational institutions in the bill were young people are involve. The DG NACA also said stigma and discrimination are pressure to the human contest, and it is because of discrimination that most people living with the viruses would not want to reveal their status, and to go for the HCT.
Senator Ningi who represented the Senate president David Mark also said it is because of misconceptions on HIV that usually cause discrimination among people, and that HIV is just like any other disease or infection, and the reason why it kills fast is because of the discrimination nearby it. He also commented that passing the bill into law will help to save more lives as those living with HIV have equal right with any other person in the country.

 

Categories: HIV
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I was at the public hearing with the senate committee on health at the National Assembly in Abuja Nigeria on Tuesday, 4th of June 2013. It was very interesting and highly challenging, as it has come to our notice that many people living with HIV/AIDS are trying to get other people infected, because of the rate and level of discrimination which they face in their communities, and the way they are been treated in the Nation that is their father land, where they have rights as citizens.
An HIV infected woman who resides in Nassarawa state of Nigeria was seen cutting her wrist and dropping the blood into the popular drink called Zobo which she sales just to make sure she get people in her surrounding infected because of the stigma and discrimination she has faced in her community.
This issue of discrimination has crossed beyond individuals and communities, in fact it is all over the country as it is now a base for not giving infected people employment, even though they are the right candidates. This can also be seen in the case of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), their representative the Commissioner of Police (CP) and the chairperson of the NPF Action Committee on HIV/AIDS said PLWHA cannot be recruited into the NPF as they said they need people who are fit and those living with HIV are not fit to be employed due to the tedious nature of their job.
Another area of discrimination can be seen in the educational institution where so many people living with HIV are denied admission into the University of their choice because of their status, this is one of the reasons Education as A Vaccine (EVA) a youth-led and youth focused Non Governmental Organization in Nigeria submitted a memorandum proposing the inclusion of educational institutions in the bill as that is where most young people can be found.
The DG NACA also said stigma and discrimination are threats to the human race, and it is because of discrimination that most people living with the disease would not want to disclose their status
Senator Ningi who represented the Senate president David Mark also said it is because of misconceptions on HIV that usually cause discrimination among people, and that HIV is just like any other disease or infection, and the reason why it kills fast is because of the discrimination surrounding it. He also commented that establishing the bill and implementing it is good as it would help to save more lives as those living with HIV have equal right with any other person in the country.
The chairman Senator Ifeanyi Okowa also assured Education as a vaccine that all their recommendations would be looked into as it carries the most important aspect which the Bill would have left out. He also commented that if discrimination is effectively tackled having zero (0) infections would be possible in Nigeria.

Gloria Asoquo presenting for EVA. YAG members at the public hearing

Participant at the public hearing

Categories: HIV
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I was at the public hearing with the senate committee on health at the National Assembly in Abuja Nigeria on Tuesday, 4th of June 2013. It was very interesting and highly challenging, as it has come to our notice that many people living with HIV/AIDS are trying to get other people infected, because of the rate and level of discrimination which they face in their communities, and the way they are been treated in the Nation that is their father land, where they have rights as citizens.
An HIV infected woman who resides in Nassarawa state of Nigeria was seen cutting her wrist and dropping the blood into the popular drink called Zobo which she sales just to make sure she get people in her surrounding infected because of the stigma and discrimination she has faced in her community.
This issue of discrimination has crossed beyond individuals and communities, in fact it is all over the country as it is now a base for not giving infected people employment, even though they are the right candidates. This can also be seen in the case of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), their representative the Commissioner of Police (CP) and the chairperson of the NPF Action Committee on HIV/AIDS said PLWHA cannot be recruited into the NPF as they said they need people who are fit and those living with HIV are not fit to be employed due to the tedious nature of their job.
Another area of discrimination can be seen in the educational institution where so many people living with HIV are denied admission into the University of their choice because of their status, this is one of the reasons Education as A Vaccine (EVA) a youth-led and youth focused Non Governmental Organization in Nigeria submitted a memorandum proposing the inclusion of educational institutions in the bill as that is where most young people can be found.
The DG NACA also said stigma and discrimination are threats to the human race, and it is because of discrimination that most people living with the disease would not want to disclose their status
Senator Ningi who represented the Senate president David Mark also said it is because of misconceptions on HIV that usually cause discrimination among people, and that HIV is just like any other disease or infection, and the reason why it kills fast is because of the discrimination surrounding it. He also commented that establishing the bill and implementing it is good as it would help to save more lives as those living with HIV have equal right with any other person in the country.
The chairman Senator Ifeanyi Okowa also assured Education as a vaccine that all their recommendations would be looked into as it carries the most important aspect which the Bill would have left out. He also commented that if discrimination is effectively tackled having zero (0) infections would be possible in Nigeria.

Gloria Asoquo presenting for EVA. YAG members at the public hearing

Participant at the public hearing

Categories: HIV
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The HIV antistigma bill as proposed by the senate committee on health, just passed the 2nd reading in the Nigerian senates, and all YAG members where invited for the public hearing aimed at listening to the general publicss views on the drafted bill, recommendations, ammendments amongst others

A paper was presented by the Commissioner of Police of the NPF action committee on HIV/AIDS where the NPF was recommending to be exempted from implementing the HIV anti-stigma bill, their reasons being that the police force are involved in a lot of tasking activities which they believe PLWHA are not medically fit for. Questions which included: Whether the NPF gives room for VCT? To what extent the test carried out by the NPF is comprehensive? Etc. was asked by the committee on concrete reasons why the NPF wanted to be exempted from the bill? The argument from the CP was based on the fact that the police force were involved in a lot of rigorous training, “i wonder what rigorous training they are involved in? standing by check points”when police officers were going out for peace keeping missions it is a standard procedure to test officers before they are chosen and only officers that test negative to HIV/AIDS are eligible for peace keeping missions, and also the AU and UN do not recruit PLWHA because they are not medically fit for the job. The committee chair summarized all the arguments by giving the CP a deadline to produce all documents supporting her arguments.

But as a human being i stand to wonder why all these issues? PLWHA i have worked with and met are one of the most active and vibrant groups of young people i have ever known and full of potentials. Are the NPF denying themselves the opportuinity of knowing such wonderful people?

I would say we really have a long way to go on this issue of discrimination if we still have a group of people openly saying they want to be allowed to discriminate against others.

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Categories: HIV
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I was excited when I listened passionately to how the policy makers deliberated on issues and also listened to what people had to contribute to the Bill on the HIV/AIDS Anti Stigmatization and discrimination bill at the National Assembly. The essence of the public hearing was to analyze the content of the Anti-Stigma Bill and to make specific recommendations that will cover a wider group of people living with and effected by HIV in Nigeria. Based on the content of the HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigma bill, Stigma and Discrimination was only described in the context of employer and employee situation leaving out stigma in academic institutions, religious settings, within family, in the community, by health care providers amongst others. They specifically made mention of entities responsible for preventing the occurrence of discrimination on the basis of HIV status and also discrimination setting must include higher institutions in other words no higher institution should include HIV testing as part of their admission requirements. Over the years, we have seen an increase in the rate of stigma and discrimination in academic institutions and in our communities, particularly affecting young people, women and children. A lot of these young people living with HIV are left defenseless because there is no law that protects their rights. It is important to note that in Nigeria, a high percentage of people living with HIV and affected by HIV/AIDS are young people that are mostly unemployed.

Education as a Vaccine made an input concerning this fact and sen. Ifeanyi Okowa assured the YAG of EVA that our inputs would be included in the HIV/AIDS stigmatization and discrimination bill. As we continue to review the HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigmatization bill, it is my hope that all of our recommendations, on how the bill can capture the rights of those outside the labor market will be adopted by the House of Reps and Senate.

Categories: HIV
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WD time is now

What if all the empathy that transpired in the speeches and talks of policy makers I listened to today at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference could immediately be converted to action? This is the question I asked myself during my reflection on the pre-youth conference that ok place on the 27th May 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

Passion, enthusiasm, and determination were perceptible in the way the policy makers I listened to and spoke with today spoke about how painful, frustrating, and humiliating the consequences of inequalities that exist in todays world are.   But does this mean these people have finally heeded to the call of social activists to act now for inequality to be eradicated? Only time will tell as youths will be keeping a keen eye on these people to ensure that all the promises they will make this time around are kept and within the minimum possible time frame.

The biggest risk to the continuity of humanity is inequality, declared UNFPAs deputy Director; Kate Gilmore during an intervention at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference. Conscious of this, it is unavoidably true that, by delivering on their promises to not only reduce but eradicate inequalities and injustices of every nature, policy makers will be contributing to the continuity of humanity. Therefore by failing to deliver for Girls, women, and Youths, policy makers of this generation will be committing a crime that present and future generations will not pardon.

But well, we the youths of this generation wont sit arms folded to see you commit such heinous crimes, because our silence-that of Girls, Women, and Youths is a roar that will degenerate into something worse if not listened to.

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Months ago i was working on a video when i got to a point in editing that i have to insert a sound track and so i have search for more than just what i have, so started looking then i came across this sound track and it inspired me to do a short video. even though i am not that good i came up with something which i will want to hear your views about.

please drop me a comment so i could be able to take corrections

Categories: HIV
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condoms_hanging

The Ministry of Educations says “No to condom in Schools.” I beg to differ. Yes to Condoms in Schools…..

By now we must all be aware of the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) and National HIV/STI merger to form the national authority for sexual and reproductive health. While it is a good move to have the merger, we are now faced with the question, will these two entities — now made one — make more success in its endeavour, and what about the rights component associated with sexual reproductive health?

One of the issues that this authority needs to examine is the debate on whether condoms should be distributed in schools or not. In order to tackle this correctly, the first step that must be taken is for us to scrutinise the readiness of individuals at this age to be engaging in sexual encounters.

There needs to be greater transparency in the age at which one can start engaging in sex and the age at which one can access sexual reproductive services. At present, it is 16 years old and 18 years old respectively. This is contradictory, but the sad reality is, it is our law, so we have to abide by it or else we know the result will be jail time or be fined large sums of money when brought before the courts. There have been several consultations over the years with the relevant authorities involved; however, we are yet to see any real change with regards to having consistency in light of this discrepancy.

Let us examine the pros and cons of distributing contraceptives in schools moreso condoms. Many argue that if this is done we are sending a strong message to children that they should be engaging in sexual activities at their young age, even though they are not emotionally ready for this act. How many of the children in schools are married? Well, we have to take into consideration the moral standing of most of the country being Christians, and we all know that it is a sinful act to be engaging in sex before marriage.

When last did you stop to check the statistics as it relates to teenage pregnancy? The last time I did, it still showed Jamaica having one of the highest in the region. What about that for HIV and other STIs? The 14-24 age groups have the highest rates in the total population. This should not be the case, but it is a reality that these unwanted diseases and pregnancies are occurring among our young people. How else can we deal with this in our society but to distribute condoms to students to rid the society of these unwanted actions? This should always be a last resort, but if the family was playing its role and educating children from within the home from an early age about sex, then the school wouldn’t have to be faced with this burden.

At the end of the day, we should also be advocating for comprehensive sex education in schools. Not only should we teach about abstinence — which is the greatest prevention strategy — but for those who are involved already there needs to be intervention strategy, and this can come in the form of condom distribution to protect these students against unwanted pregnancies and diseases. There should also be a supportive component which can come through counselling and effective referral services where needed. Students have the ability to make informed decisions and should be trusted in taking on this role at times.

Jason Madden

IYSO Council Member

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I visited unicef Jamaica\’s website this morning and came across this post in their media center, it spoke to the reality of so many Jamaican youth.

Shevon Davis is an adolescent from Trench Town, Kingston. He spoke at the International AIDS Conference on July 23rd in Washington D.C in a session entitled:Young and Restless Youth Leadership. Shevon spoke about his generation in the age of HIV and AIDS:

Good morning everyone.  It is so good to be here this morning to talk about how my generation is dealing with HIV prevention. 

I have come here from Jamaica, where I live in Trench Town, aninner-city community in the capital of Kingston.

You may have heard about Trench Town from the music of the great Bob Marley, because this is where he lived and spent his early years as a musician.

A lot has changed in Trench Town since the days when Bob lived there.  But it is still a rough place to grow up.  Poverty is a serious issue. Some people can’t find food to eat and clothes to wear. People do all kinds of things to survive. Young people have to learn to hustle to help their mothers, fathers and grandmothers make ends meet. Often they don’t have their parents around to guide them in a positive way.

Life is hard in so many ways in my community – and in other inner-city communities too – and these hardships have a lot to do with the choices we make as young people.

Getting caught in gang violence, people having sex for money, dropping out of school, becoming a teen mother or father because of early and unprotected sex – these things are a reality every day. 

So with all these challenges, how do young people feel about HIV?

What are they doing about HIV prevention?  

I asked 20 people in my community about their status and when they last got tested. Out of the 20, everyone told me they were HIV negative. Despite this, only three of them got tested in the last 12 months and surprisingly 4 persons had never even been tested before.

There was a time when HIV was seen as a matter for much concern, but it seems those days are behind us. Nowadays many young people – like the ones I surveyed – see themselves as “untouchable” as far as HIV is concerned. The truth is that young people in my community are more worried about early pregnancy than HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. We are afraid of the public shame of an early pregnancy; especially the girls. 

HIV is mostly seen as a condition that can be treated; if you can get the drugs that reduce the symptoms so that no one knows you have it. And young people know that you can live a long and healthy life with HIV.  Thankfully, for those who are positive, this is true.  But in Trench Town, like in many other places, this means that young people don’t care as much as they should about HIV prevention.

This is a major problem since having multiple partners is a norm for young people in Jamaica. There is pressure to have sex everywhere. A lot of the pressure is from older men and women. And it is often harder for boys. Having one sexual partner in my community, and I dare say throughout the country, is a huge taskfor a young man. It is encouraged and expected that you will have many partners before you are ready to “settle down”. It is a sign of manhood for a man to be sexually active with more than one girl.

In Jamaica, the mean age for first sexual intercourse is 13 years for boys and 15 years for girls. These practices are not new.   It is the norm.

How can we take on these challenges and make the breakthrough we need for my generation?

Jamaica’s Ministry of Health has done good work to ensure that condom use advertisements are on radio and television. However, many young people see these ads and they don’t make much of a difference in their thinking or their behaviours. They seem to have gotten tired of this message.  How can we make condom use more important to them?

I think many of the things that are being done have been done for a long time, without a fresh approach.  Because of this, it seems that there is no urgency anymore. Young people like me know that HIV will be around for a long time and with medication available, it is no longer treated as an emergency.

Therefore, my generation has accepted this as the truth.  We have become comfortable and other issues have taken priority in our lives.

One of the first things we have to do in getting young people to care is to open up and talk. When I participated in an HIV prevention intervention in my community, it made me really think about the risks of becoming infected and how to lower them. I was able to talk through the issues with other young people who come from the same place and face the same issues that I face.

I got the chance to feel as if I was a part of something.  I got a chance to hear that my friends were having similar struggles as I was. I got a chance to hear how they felt about a number of things, including but not limited to HIV. We simply did not talk to each other about these things in everyday conversation.

For young people, the importance of having the space to talk through the issues with people we relate to cannot be overlooked. The space does not have to be a workshop or a building. There are already places where we gather naturally, like on corners – but often there is no-one there to guide a discussion on HIV.

Remember too that talk is not only face to face for us. More and more, we are talking online at Internet cafes and on smart phones, which are very popular.  There is a lot of unsafe activity that happens in these spaces and there is no way for parents to know or police these interactions. 

Creating opportunities for interaction and real participation so that those who plan FOR us can actually plan WITH us. This is still important. But our participation has to be meaningful – and not as we say in Jamaica – “a bag a mouth”, which means there is all talk, and no action. Our engagement should be on-going and when necessary, it should be publicised so that others in the same situations realize that we are, in fact, part of the discussion or solution.

My experience has taught me that there is also a need to get condoms into more non-traditional outlets in communities, where young people can access them without judgement. 

Very importantly, to reduce the risk of infection, young people need skills training and jobs.  So to focus on HIV alone is not enough.  There must be a more comprehensive or “whole person” approach to HIV prevention.

I now feel empowered to bring information to my peers. I know there is much more work to be done in my community.  I know that there are a lot of young people who may be HIV positive and not know it.  There are also a lot who are thinking of becoming or they are already sexually active, who have not thought about the risks involved.  Because of how much I learned through the intervention in Trench Town, I am happy for the opportunity to be part of the solution.

I thank you for your kind attention.

 

Categories: HIV
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397811_582249228461586_1321522829_n-1 2

Last week, governments from around the world met at the United Nations for the 46th Commission on Population and Development (CPD).  Throughout the week-long deliberations, governments, UN agencies, demographers, and NGOs debated the topic of migration and its relationship to the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action—a groundbreaking declaration which signaled a major shift in population policy from one based on population control to one based on human rights, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

What’s migration got to do with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), you ask?  Well, just about everything.

Today, more women are migrating than ever before, representing nearly half of the total international migrant population, and in some countries, as much as 70 to 80 percent.  And young migrants under the age of 29 make up half of all global migrants. During the process of migration, women and girls tend to be more vulnerable to human rights violations, particularly SRHR violations, including violence, exploitation, and sexual coercion.  Moreover, migrant women and young people are also at increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections due to inadequate access to health services, including SRH services.  As a result, ensuring access to SRHR information and services and protection of women’s and young people’s rights was our number one goal at the CPD.

So, how’d we do?  Well, this year’s CPD proved interesting, to say the least.  Traditionally progressive countries that fight every year to advance SRHR found themselves in a bit of a pickle given their countries’ rather regressive migration policies.  Against the backdrop of comprehensive immigration reform playing out on Capitol Hill, the US delegation—typically a stalwart champion of young people’s SRHR and LGBT rights—sought to include language restricting access to non-emergency services to only those migrants who are documented or in legal status. The same was true for other Global North countries like the UK, Canada, Denmark, and the EU. At the same time, conservative countries with strong religious views (think Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, Honduras, Malta, and Poland) joined forces with the Holy See (aka, the Vatican) to denounce any inclusion of SRHR or sexual orientation and gender identity.  Discussions grew more and more tense by the day, resulting in an eventual breakdown of the negotiations and a final “take it or leave it” declaration drafted by the chair of the commission.

From a youth SRHR perspective, the declaration is just so-so.  Here’s my take on it.

The Good:

  • Recognizes that human rights are universal and must be promoted and protected regardless of migration status
  • Mentions SRH/SRHR five times, with specific attention paid to the prevention of and response to sexual violence, including the provision of emergency contraception and safe abortion services where permitted by law
  • Calls for gender sensitive migration policies and actions that empower women and prevent and eliminate all forms of violence, coercion, discrimination, trafficking, and exploitation and abuse of women and girls, including protections for women migrant domestic workers
  • Urges special attention (albeit only in a preambular paragraph) to young people’s vulnerability to HIV due to social and economic inequities, stigma, discrimination, gender-based and sexual violence, gender inequality, and lack of access to information on HIV prevention as well as access to sexual and reproductive health services
  • Encourages governments to eliminate any remaining HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay, and residence

The Bad:

  • Includes language in two places which restricts access to services based on migration or legal status, as well as an entire paragraph reaffirming the sovereign right of each country to implement recommendations in accordance with national laws, “with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people”—in essence rendering everything in the resolution optional if countries disagree with its tenets
  • Neglects young people, who are only mentioned twice, both of which are in the preambular paragraphs which carry less significance than the operational paragraphs; adolescents do get a minor mention in OP30 which calls for services to be provided to women and adolescents that are sensitive to their needs, with particular attention to sexual violence survivors

And the Ugly:

  • Rejected language suggestions from several countries that would recognize the rights of young people, including access to SRH services and information, including comprehensive sexuality education
  • Eliminated the only operational paragraph solely addressing the specific rights, needs, and vulnerabilities of young migrants
  • Refused to include a single mention of sexual orientation and gender identity, despite three attempts to do so

After a groundbreaking resolution on adolescents and young people at last year’s CPD, we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us to ensure young people’s rights are front and center in the 20-year review of the ICPD in 2014 and in the post-2015 development agenda. We simply cannot afford to go backwards; we need forward progress if we are ever to see the full implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.

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sheryl lee ralph

Jamaica has done it again. In an effort to turn the volume up against the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country, renowned vocalist and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph was introduced as the newest ambassador to help in this venture.  

The Ministry of Health was instrumental in inviting the Jamaican born now Hollywood star to get on board and had a launch on Tuesday April 23, 2013. This reception saw several stakeholders attending to welcome the CEO of Diva Foundation – Lee Ralph. 

The Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson was very keen in his greetings and stated that “The disease was seen as a death sentence, no longer today as we have ART and support from Global fund, World Bank and PEPFAR. We now need to see how we can sustain these improvements with HIV/AIDS. Jamaica is amongst the first country to be looking at sustainable study in regards to HIV/AIDS.” He further went on to say that there is unity with the political parties, civil society and private sector and therefore nothing can stop us now. “HIV/AIDS as a developmental issue must now be treated in that way.”

Ms. Denise Herbol, Mission Director of USAID uttered firm words and reinforced that Partnership amongst all sectors will help us to achieve an AIDS free generation.

The JaBCHA Foundation was one of the key partners’ at this event and its Managing Director, Mr. Earl Moore beckoned that stigma still exists, especially amongst church people. “Private sector is not doing enough and again I will emphasize the churches are not doing enough and it is embarrassing.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation was in attendance as well and its Southern Bureau Chief, Mr. Michael Kahane brought greetings from his organization. “This country is blessed with the willingness to accept new ideas. As the largest HIV/AIDS organization in the world we are happy to be on board with Jamaica.”

Ms Sheryl Lee Ralph with her melodic singing began her presentation “I am an endangered spices  … I am a woman, I am an artist and I know where my voice belongs.”  “Jamaica now is the time, you saw us light that fire earlier, you should take action and start talking about sex. We are going to love our children more by talking to them about sex and inform them about abstinence. We can and must do better when it comes to HIV/AIDS, it is everyone’s problem. Get involve, get inform, get proper information. I talk about condoms too, use them! I know you are saying it doesn’t feel good, well HIV doesn’t either. The number one reason most persons don’t talk about their status is because they don’t know their status. “Get tested!” 15-49 age groups are carrying the burden of this disease. “Get tested!” “I love you, God does not make mistakes.”  

Ashe ensemble did performance from beating of drums, singing and dancing and had those in attendances wowed by the high energy that they end on and showed that young people are indeed creative and can make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS.   

This is truly a step in the right direction for Jamaica as it increases awareness on HIV/AIDS. People should become inform and stay in the know. There should be no more stigma and discrimination towards people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

 

Jason Madden

IYSO Council Member  

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butwhy5b65d

Hi!

My name is Karachi and I am here to share with you the wondrously-baffling gospel of Tyler Perry. Ladies, Mr. Perry would like you to know that if you cheat on your God-fearing, hardworking, high school sweetheart husband, you WILL feel the wrath of the almighty. This wrath will come in the form of HIV, which will be transmitted by the most evil man ever – the HIV-positive, craptastic, psycho of a man whom no woman would fall for…unless of course she was a character in a Tyler Perry movie. ‘Cos we all know that women, black women, are just spineless, money-grubbing hos who destroy perfect marriages and are only brave enough to pour a pot of hot grits on an abusive husband when Madea tells us to.

It is QUITE interesting to see how Perry chose to portray HIV-positive people in 2013. It is especially interesting considering that the immigration and travel ban on HIV-positive people was only lifted 3 years ago, and that the International AIDS conference was finally held in the US again after 22 years as a result of this lift. So imagine how it feels, after all this progress, to have Mr. Perry come along with this epic fail of a movie. No seriously, even if you take away the HIV stigma, and the ridiculous characters who must only exist in the alternate universe contained solely in Tyler Perry’s mind, the movie still blows. I am hopeful that Tyler Perry or one of his employees will see this post, and offer me my $10.50 back, along with their sincere apologies for the atrocities inflicted on my mind and eyes.

I tried unsuccessfully, to vlog about this travesty of a movie, but failed. I failed because the entire time I sat there laughing in incredulity or with this expression on my face.

 http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3cLpmZJw6qY/T-HqRUrjyBI/AAAAAAAAC3w/0stx-dLVMtY/s1600/jackie+chan+my+brain+is+full+of+fuck+meme+blank+template+lol+wtf.jpg

It was just difficult to flow from point to point without veering off into head-shaking and other assorted expressions of disgust.

So let’s talk about some of the other things that went on in the movie. Warning, there are spoilers ahead as I have to divulge some of the plot in order to create an understanding of the issues I am discussing.

The main character, Judith, is a young woman who has recently moved to DC with her husband; an equally religious man whom she has known since she was young. She dreams of becoming a marriage counsellor, but is working as a counsellor at a matchmaking agency owned by Vanessa fake-French-accent Williams. One day, a young, rich, handsome, black man comes in (after we have been subjected to Kim Kardashian’s forced acting and God-awful voice) and is revealed to be the founder/CEO/whatever of a social media platform. This man, who is to be known from this point onward as “The Devil”, wastes no time flirting with Judith and pointing out the many inadequacies in her marriage. If I ever met this man in real life, I would take off my shoes and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction because he’s a complete nightmare.

Long story short, the blissful marriage begins to sour when Judith finds that the Devil pays more attention to her, and could offer her a more exciting life. Eh-mah-gerd! Sex that doesn’t happen in a bed with the pillows previously fluffed and with the lights off! It’s a whole new life! Judith’s husband offers her the chance to leave a street altercation unharmed after she has been heckled by a group of young, black men, explaining that they could have had guns; the Devil on the other hand, nearly pummels an innocent cyclist after Judith is injured from running into the bicycle because she was too busy trash talking with her head turned backwards during a run. The Devil also offers creepy possessiveness, calling her at home one night and asking why Judith’s husband doesn’t question who she’s on the phone with. “If you were mine, I’d want to know who you were talking to”. *swoon* Yes, this is on the list of qualities a woman looks for in a man, right next to being watched while asleep Edward Cullen-style.

The icing on this grossly dysfunctional cake was watching the Devil semi-rape Judith on his private plane. I sat in the theater, mouth agape, “Wait! What? There’s MORE?!” He pawed her repeatedly as she protested, asking him to stop. He did stop. And then he said something that nearly shut my brain down because it was so hard to process, “Now you can say you resisted”. And because this is an alternate reality, what followed was passionate monkey sex. Douchetards of the world now have another handy technique for raping women. Thanks Tyler Perry. After all that, what came next was predictable…up to a certain point. Judith leaves her husband, the Devil shoves her mother as she tries to stop her erring child from making a mistake, Judith berates him for shoving her mother, and the boxing gloves come out. Her husband finds out the Devil is HIV-positive and swoops in to rescue her, finding her in a tub looking like she just came out of a match against Gina Carano. In the grand finale, Judith is HIV positive, and comes to pick up her medication from the pharmacy where her husband works, and encounters his new wife and son on her way out. The movie ends with Judith walking down the street, ALONE, going back to meet her mother at church. She dissed Jesus, and she was punished, and she has no other place to go but back to him. Yes I get that the entire movie was supposed to symbolize what Perry deems to be normal gender roles and traditional Christianity.

I have so many questions:

  1. Tyler Perry, what in the world is wrong with you?

  2. Are we supposed to believe that a woman who professionally advised people about their relationships completely failed to discuss the problems in her own marriage and vaulted over to the Devil’s side after he bought her roses for her birthday, noticed her new hairdo and took her on a private jet?

  3. What is wrong with you?

  4. Why does no one discuss the Devil’s mode of infection? The status of his health? The fact that this is ignored makes HIV-positive people out to be even more reckless. In this portrayal, they are either uncaring of their effect on the people around them or just plain evil and intentionally infectious. HIV is NOT a form of punishment and HIV-positive people live full, happy lives unlike what you would have us believe.

  5. I believe I’ve asked this before but, what is wrong with you Tyler Perry?

  6. Why are all the strong, educated and successful black men in your movies always so greatly flawed when it comes to personality?

  7. Do you hate women?

 

If you are looking for a truly horrific movie experience, this is it.

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Students in Illinois need your help to correct an outrageous violation of privacy.


Illinois is the ONLY state in which health authorities are required by law to notify school principals of the names of students that test HIV-positive. Their principals can then disclose the information to any school personnel they like.

A bill before the senate, HB 61, would repeal this invasive and unnecessary requirement.

Urge the Illinois Senate to pass HB 61

Illinois’ disclosure law was written in 1987. Unfortunately, even in 2013, HIV remains highly stigmatized. Sharing students’ HIV status without their permission perpetuates this stigma and could discourage young people from getting tested for HIV. Plus, it is a violation of their right to medical confidentiality. Read more about this dangerous law.

Let’s change this law. Sign the petition and tell the Illinois Senate to pass HB 61. 

Categories: HIV
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Transgender women are the fastest growing population of the HIV-positive.  The National Institutes of Health came out with a report, noting that almost a third of transgender Americans have HIV.  Trans women of color specifically are at a greater risk than their white sisters.  Through a survey, it was found that 56% of black trans women have HIV.  The 2009 study from NIH also noted that many transgender women may not even know their HIV status.  With an alarming statistic like this, we have to wonder what’s causing it.

When individuals are thrown into social injustice, it can be difficult to escape from.  Trans women are profiled and disproportionately targeted and arrested by the law enforcement.    The police will try to use condoms as evidence of sex work, so trans women face the “choice” of keeping themselves and their partners safe or getting arrested.  When they’re forced into jail, trans women are often housed with male inmates or they are put into solitary confinement, as if either path is any better.  Sex workers are generally more likely to be HIV-positive than those who are not engaged in sex work, but because of the disproportionate targeting of trans women, trans women sex workers’ risk for HIV is four times greater.

While sex work is a valid way of meeting financial needs, some trans women turn to it as an option because of discrimination in employment.  In most of the United States, it’s completely legal to turn down or dismiss a person based on gender identity and sexual orientation.  People can even be denied housing or become evicted because of their gender identity and orientation.  This leaves a dangerously negative and significant impact on their economic well-being and safety.  It also makes it difficult for trans women especially to keep up with their hormonal therapy, since it’s often not covered by insurance, if they can even pay for that insurance with what the circumstances are.  With lack of access to basic health care, many incompetent doctors, clinics, social stigma, and overall institutions that discriminate against trans women, especially those of color– it’s all a very nasty formula expressing why trans women are hit so hard with HIV.

So, what can we do to help?  Trans people are often absent from public campaigns for sexual health and safety.  We can start by including them into that, and into many of our discussions and campaigns of social justice as well.  We could get trans-specific in our literature in safer sex guides.  We could also set up community centers as a safe space for trans people and create some peer groups, which would be strong social networks and a good use of peer outreach for safer sex and HIV testing.  And of course we could and should create social support and do our part to de-stigmatize our trans brothers and sisters.  Look up a local or national activist organization today.

 

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« KO! KO! KO! », shouted the crowd .Mind you, they weren’t participating in a boxing match, neither were they at a musical concert, they shouted KO! in response to the health officials that took turns in sensitizing the crowd of more than 5000 that gathered at the Douala Place du Gouvernement to participate in the 9KM sensitization Walk that was organized by the Cameroon’s Coalition of Businesses for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and better known by its French acronym CCATSIDA, Cameroon’s Ministry of Public Health, and other stakeholders (local and international) in the fight against Malaria this Saturday 20th April 2013.

Being a participant, I could not help but be marveled at how engaged fellow participants were as we criss-crossed the streets of Cameroon’s most populated town. Young and old, and from diverse horizons, one thing united this people; that Malaria be kicked Out of Cameroon.

This passion and demonstrated in the endurance of the participants all through the alertness of their  footsteps and the smile on their faces, could not however stop me from asking myself fundamental questions around the strategy for the fight against Malaria in my country. Thus, when  one of the thousands of spectators that had  amassed  at  streets corners shouted, “Where are condoms?”, there was  an outburst of laughter from the crowd, I began asking myself  what might have prompted this spectator to ask the question he did. As I thought about this, my eyes fell on the logo of the Cameroonian Coalition of Businesses for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and on the T-Shirt of the participant ahead of me, my answer was here. The words AIDS on this coalitions logo prompted the question from this spectator.

AIDS and its prevention methods are better known in Cameroon than Malaria and its means of protection.  This is paradoxical given that Malaria kills in Cameroon and Sub-Saharan Africa than HIV/AIDS. Mind you, I am in no way saying that resources (human and material) should be shifted from the fight against HIV/AIDS, which is causing havoc in Cameroon especially amongst youths, to the fight against Malaria. The point I am trying to make is that the fight against Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis has for long been done as though they were isolated.

It is true that a person that has Malaria  or Tuberculosis is not automatically an HIV/AIDS patient, but  most often people suffering from HIV/AIDS in Cameroon are  victims of the  Malaria and tuberculosis given the milieu in which they live and  the little means they have to survive on.

I have for long being convinced that an effective fight against Malaria cannot be done in an isolated manner but must be inclusive; taking into consideration the vectors of the disease in various communities in Cameroon. A dirty environment provides good breeding grounds for Mosquitoes especially the female Anopheles mosquito, through which Malaria is spread, the fight against Malaria must start from there. If a clean environment is achieved through mechanism through efficient urban development and poverty reduction strategies, Malaria will be made history. After all, isn’t it common knowledge that prevention is better than Cure?

In Cameroon and I guess is the case elsewhere in the world, a change from a dirty and crowded environment to a cleaner environment is the main indicator that a person has emerged from poverty. This is so because people who could barely afford 3 meals a day will have little time to think about the environments in which they live talk less of women in this bracket going for prenatal consultation or even having time to take their infants to the hospital when they are sick. Thus, despite the bed-nets distribution campaigns that  have been organized all over Cameroon and despite the fact that  Malaria treatment is free for  children and pregnant women  in Cameroon, Malaria killed more than 3000 people most of whom children.

Without an efficient attack on poverty, which is fertile ground for poor living conditions, I am afraid our walk and much talk on the fight against Malaria will be in vain. For Malaria to be kicked out of this country, we must not only walk on occasions like those organized  to mark the World day for the fight against Malaria, we must truly walk the talk on the fight against Malaria daily, by  launching an immediate assault and poverty. Because Malaria is the consequence of a dirty environment which is its self a glaring consequence of poverty.

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oral-candidiasis

 

Oral problems are very common in people with HIV. More than one third of people living with HIV have oral conditions with  severe oral health problems in their daily life that arise because of their weakened immune system. And even though combination antiretroviral therapy has made some oral problems less common, others are occurring more often with this type of treatment.

They can be painful, annoying, and lead to other problems

How Do I Know if I Have HIV/AIDS in relation to Dental?
Dental problems such as sore bleeding gums, herpes sores in the mouth, and fungal and candida (yeast) infections may be among the first signs of AIDS. However, you should not assume you are infected if you have any of these symptoms as these occur in the general population as well. The only way to determine whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection. Consult with your physician or other healthcare professional.

A positive HIV test result does not mean that you have AIDS. AIDS is a medical diagnosis made by a doctor based on specific criteria. You also cannot rely on symptoms to know whether or not you are infected with HIV. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for many years.

 

You may be told that oral problems are minor compared to other things you have to deal with. But you know that they can cause discomfort and embarrassment and really affect how you feel about yourself. Oral problems can also lead to trouble with eating. If mouth pain or tenderness makes it difficult to chew and swallow, or if you can’t taste food as well as you used to, you may not eat enough. And, your doctor may tell you to eat more than normal so your body has enough energy to deal with HIV.

 

 

They can be treated

Today there are medical treatments that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system. There are other treatments that can prevent or treat some of the illnesses associated with AIDS. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for treatment.

 

The most common oral problems linked with HIV can be treated. So talk with your doctor or dentist about what treatment might work for you.

 

Remember, with the right treatment, your mouth can feel better. And that’s an important step toward living well, not just longer, with HIV.

 

Description

It could be:

What & where?

Painful?

Contagious?

Treatment

Red sores
ulcers
Aphthous (AF-thus) ulcers. Also known as Canker Sores Red sores that might also have a yellow-gray film on top. They are usually on the moveable parts of the mouth such as the tongue or inside of the cheeks and lips.

Yes

No

Mild cases – Over-the-counter cream or prescription mouthwash that contains corticosteroids; More severe cases – corticosteroids in a pill form
OR
Herpes (HER-peez) A viral infection Red sores usually on the roof of the mouth. They are sometimes on the outside of the lips, where they are called fever blisters.

Sometimes

Yes

Prescription pill can reduce healing time and frequency of outbreaks.
White hairlike growth Hairy Leukoplakia (Loo-ko-PLAY-key-uh) caused by the Epstein-Barr virus White patches that do not wipe away; sometimes very thick and “hairlike.” Usually appear on the side of the tongue or sometimes inside the cheeks and lower lip.

Not usually

No

Mild cases – not usually required; More severe cases – a prescription pill that may reduce severity of symptoms. In some severe cases, a pain reliever might also be required.
White creamy or bumpy patcheslike cottage cheese Candidiasis (CAN-di-dye-uh-sis), a fungal (yeast) infection – Also known as thrush White or yellowish patches (or can sometimes be red). If wiped away, there will be redness or bleeding underneath. They can appear anywhere in the mouth.

Sometimes, a burning feeling

No

Mild cases – prescription antifungal lozenge or mouthwash; More severe cases – prescription antifungal pills.
Warts Small, white, gray, or pinkish rough bumps that look like cauliflower. They can appear inside the lips and on other parts of the mouth.

Not
usually

Possibly

Inside the mouth – a doctor can remove them surgically or use “cryosurgery” – a way of freezing them off; On the lips – a prescription cream that will wear away the wart. Warts can return after treatment.

 

 

 

#Any suggestion Or Question Regards  Oral Problem with relation to HIV?AIDS Please let me .I will do my best to help you out .

Categories: HIV
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Hello World :),

 

I’m sure we all know Sheryl Lee Ralph. We see her in the famous Moesha television series. I didn’t know she was half Jamaica until yesterday when I saw her at a Ministry of Health function which was held to celebrate her new partnership with the Ministry as the “face” of the new HIV/AIDS campaign.

Here is more information about her taken from: http://www.answers.com/topic/sheryl-lee-ralph#ixzz2RQuwLucu

“Sheryl Lee Ralph, best known as Moesha‘s television stepmom, is an accomplished actress and vocalist whose path to stardom has been occasionally blunted by the shortage of solid roles for women of color in the entertainment industry. Ralph began her career in the late 1970s, and for a time had to earn a living as a soap opera regular. In the 1990s, as color barriers began to disintegrate somewhat, Ralph has won a number of serious parts in critically acclaimed films; more importantly, as head of her own production company she is able to channel the determination that guided her through the rough days of her career into projects that will benefit other African American entertainment professionals.”

She is also the founder of the Diva foundation:

Divinely Inspired Victoriously AWARE“… Raising awareness of HIV/AIDS for men, women and children around the globe. Join and Support our Sisters CircleTODAY because HIV/AIDS affects us ALL!

The DIVA Foundation is an international 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Sheryl Lee Ralph in 1990 as a memorial to the many friends she lost to AIDS. The organization focuses on generating resources and producing events that raise awareness and educate millions of people around the world affected and infected by HIV/AIDS. The DIVA Foundation utilizes music, entertainment and voice as a vehicle to inform, educate and reduce the stigma attached to this deadly disease that affects us ALL.”

(taken from http://www.thedivafoundation.org/about.html)

 

She presented a very inspiring message at the function emphasizing the necessity to speak frankly and openly to our youth about sex and contraceptives. As posited by the diva her self  “See, if we don’t talk to our young people first, somebody else will, and the information they give them is not necessarily what we want them to hear, know or have,”.

She is a firm advocate for allow youth to have access to contraceptives as a means of HIV/AIDS prevention. Read more about her statement at : http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Give-students-condoms_14131273#ixzz2RQxQUvCl“.

 

I applaud the DIVA Sheryl Lee Ralph for her indelible contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS and I can’t wait to she what she has in store next!

<3 kevz

 

Categories: HIV
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There are few things as AHMAZING as when young people, and their allies, get together to work for a common cause.  On Wednesday, April 10, we saw your events, read your tweets, posts and blogs, smiled at your pictures, and joined you in celebrating the very first National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day!

Each and every day in the United States 33 young people contract HIV. That is 1,000 young people each and every month. There are more than 76,000 young people under the age of 25 living with HIV in this country alone, and 60% of them don’t know that they have the infection.

Young people often feel as if they are fighting this epidemic alone, but we were NOT alone in this fight! Thousands of young people across this country stood together to prioritize young people in the fight against HIV & AIDS. You organized more than 50 events to raise awareness of the impact of HIV and AIDS on the campus of Howard University, tabled in Kansas, provided free testing in Florida, got your cities to officially recognize the day, held open-mic nights in Arizona, participated in a #youth #HIV Twitter chat with youth activists @lstallworth0 and @GeminiInstinct, and helped get the NYHAAD hashtag shared 130,480 times! Hot.

LA County Resolution

You also contributed amazing blogs on:

We were bowled over by the hundreds of photos you submitted on what young people need to reach an AIDS-free generation.

522093_560976563922661_2089805571_nMilena

The list could go on and on, your activism was everywhere! Thank you for showing the world that young people matter – that they need to be valued not just for who they will become tomorrow, but who they are today –and that you will not be silent! See you for NYHAAD 2014!

Categories: HIV, NYHAAD
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April 10, the first ever National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, was a huge success!  From the Capitol Hill briefing, to the blogs and social media, to the events and activism around the country, youth activists and adult allies came out in full force.  We\’ll have a full recap with pictures later, but in the meantime, thanks for all that you did to support NYHAAD!

Categories: HIV
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Today is the first ever National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and I am urging folks to participate by learning about sexuality and sexual health, talking to friends and family and making these discussions informative and empowering, and preventing the spread of ignorance and diseases.

Taking the time to learn about our own bodies, living healthy, protecting ourselves, dealing with emotions, breaking barriers, and understanding the wide spectrum of sexuality is a must, no matter what age you may be.

I strongly believe that prevention is our biggest weapon and our only way of conquering this fight is through educating, informing, and talking.

There are no more reasons or valid excuses for youth to continue to put themselves at risk. Whether it is at home or in school, discussions about HIV/AIDS and sexual education are needed in order to stop more people from getting infected and break stigma.

Categories: NYHAAD
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“The good news is that we now have an official day to recognize and raise awareness for HIV and AIDS in young people. The bad news is there are still 1000 new cases of young people contracting HIV every month. This rate of infection remains too high because so many young people are not getting the valuable information they need to protect themselves and their partners.”

 

Read more

Categories: HIV, NYHAAD
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I am

A miniature of all things else

A microscope of all things else

All things else is being cared for

Seen to

Helped and sheltered but

I am

so small all that won’t reach me

it will barely brush the surface of my troubles

 

I am

All things else when it was new

All things else still unformed

All things else tries to mold me

Shape me

shelter and fix but

I am

Brave enough to walk through fire

Forge myself into creation with minimal assistance

 

 

I am

Part of all things else but not

Only all things else, you see

instead all things else is part of me

some of me

none of me and all of me

I am

Dependent on the part, some, none, whole

But it is not the only thing I need to survive

 

I am

Grateful for all all things else has

But I need my own

 

 

 

This poem inspired by the current push to obtain a National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day on April 10. May people have argued that young people do not deserve their own day for there are a myriad of other days under which they fall under. This argument dismisses the fact that young people are a demographic with their own specific needs and issues. Young people may fall into every other group that already has an AIDS Awareness Day, but just because they are part of those groups does not mean that they do not deserve and need their own day. For though they are a part of all things else, they are not only all things else, and they need their own.

Categories: HIV
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Today is National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day. This  disease has been robbing our generation of precious young people for many years and now is the time to take a stand and fight for our generation back. I am happy to support this day and I have hopes that it will evolve into a mass movement amongst the young people of this generation. Knowledge is power! By raising awareness and promoting prevention young people will have the power to fight HIV and AIDS.

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April 10, 2013 will be celebrated as National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) in the United States. The reality remains that our young people are being impacted by HIV within our society. Therefore their needs must be catered to as well.

According to Population Media, “Young people in Jamaica are in a severe crisis. Jamaica’s adolescent pregnancy rate is among the highest in the Caribbean, and Jamaica’s infection rate for HIV/AIDS is highest among youth ages 15-24. In 2004, AIDS was the second leading cause of death for both young men and young women ages 15-24.”

The 2012 International AIDS Conference saw a ground breaking number of over 2000 young people from around the world being active in the activities leading up to and at the conference. This is a stride in the right direction and no wonder the relevance of having NYHAAD. .

Jamaica’s HIV programme has been acclaimed as being among the most successful in the Latin American and Caribbean region and this is commendable but there are still gaps that need to bridge. One such gap is having youths become more involved in the HIV/AIDS response. Youths have so much input to make if they are given the opportunity to do so.

Within policy making youths must be at the table helping to aid in the decision making process. Over a year ago the Health Ministry was quoted saying “There is a worrying trend of younger females contracting HIV/AIDS, with the 10-29 and 15-19 age groups accounting for the majority of the increase.”  What actions has the government taken to address this since then? Recognizing NYHAAD is one such action that could be modeled to have young people reflect on their actions and input they can make in the HIV response.

Getting to zero is the goal of all involves in the HIV response and it is not an easy task. In order to get there stakeholders must look at creative ways of reaching the most vulnerable within our society. Without the input by those who are most affected then this reality will just be blown away in the winds.

We believe that youth involvement within the HIV/AIDS response will put on end to this epidemic. Ending AIDS means no more AIDS related death. This will come through awareness. What better way to do this now than to join us in recognizing the importance of having a National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and have the relevant ministries observing this day as well.

Jason Madden

IYSO Council Member

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While Boston College is against adult students at the college using and having access to condoms my college LOVED when the student government gave out condom flowers on Condom Day.

I am one part of my college’s Undergrad Student Governments Health Programming Board. Our campus has a health clinic like many other college campuses however, a lot of students do not know about it. In an effort to get more of my peers to know about the clinic and to be more mindful of the sexual health I decided to make condom flowers for Valentine’s Day and give them away to students.

Condom flowers are cute, creative, and lets face it super practical. Luckily for me they’re even easy to make. I set out making the flowers the day before and after hours of tape, condoms, and pipe cleaners  I called it quits at 140 flowers.
Unfortunately, I had class at the time of giving them away however when I went downstairs between classes my friends h
ad told me that the condom flowers were a huge hit!
Even the Dean of Student Affairs came out to them and thanked them for doing “this it’s really nee
ded.”
While I was with them I watched as some people would pull their hands back as if they were reaching into fire when they noticed they were condoms. Why?
Why is it that condoms are “icky,” “gross,” “embarrassing and unprotected sex isn’t? Why are adults in college still afraid and blush at the sight of a condom? The other day the Center for Disease Control confirmed the United States is one of the most infectious developed countries in the world.
Perhaps if we learned, familiarized, and taught ourselves about sex safe we would actually have safe sex. Imagine that.

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By Lizzie Jekanowski and Chelsea Lennox, campus organizers at Boston College

Lately we’ve been having some trouble at school.  (You might have heard about it. ) Our grades are fine; we’re not vandalizing the campus; we’re not in a cheating scandal.  But our crime has made national news:

We’re giving out condoms.

Condoms, and information about how to use them to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.

For this, we’ve been told by the dean that we’ll be disciplined if we don’t stop.

It’s all happening  just in time for National Youth HIV and AIDS Day (NYHAAD)- a day when youth activists around the nation are gathering together to promote HIV testing, fight stigma, and hold our leaders accountable for their commitment to realizing an AIDS-free generation.  This is what we’re doing today:  holding BC accountable.

Boston College promotes abstinence until marriage as the only acceptable means of protection from STIs and pregnancy.  Abstinence is a great choice for those who choose it. But by age 19, 70 percent of people have already had sex; ninety-five percent of people have sex before they are married.   What about those students’ lives and futures?  Doesn’t BC want everyone to have all the tools they need to be healthy and productive?  Why would the college withhold vital information and supplies from its students, and instead promote silence and shame?

For people who are sexually active, condoms are highly effective at preventing HIV.  It’s common sense that being able to get condoms nearby and for free makes students likelier to use them.    That’s why the Great American Condom Campaign was founded – to make it easier for college students to get protection before they need it.  That’s why, on this day dedicated to prioritizing young people in the fight against HIV and AIDS , we refuse to stop providing condoms on our campus.

Boston College is not alone in creating obstacles to ending the AIDS epidemic.  Many campuses ban condom distribution.  Many school districts don’t provide comprehensive information about contraception and condoms.  Most college and high school students have never been tested for HIV.  There is still a lot of work to be done to get to a sexually healthy nation.

We do this work because we are dedicated to keeping our fellow students, and their partners, safer and healthier. We have the right to work to make our campus community healthier.

On NYHAAD, we’re standing with thousands of students around the country.  We need to ensure access to safer sex materials, resources, and information. All of us need and have a right to comprehensive information and services, and a voice in decisions that affect us.

We’re leading the fight to get to an AIDS-free generation.  We’re not backing down.

And , trouble or not, we’re still handing out condoms!

Categories: NYHAAD
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by Emilio Vicente, an organizer for HIV and AIDS prevention and DREAM activist.

I was a senior at a rural high school in North Carolina, planning to host the school’s first Latino AIDS Awareness Day event. I mentioned it to one of my teachers and the first thing he told me was that I shouldn’t go through with the event because same-sex couples shouldn’t be having sex in the first place. That it was wrong.

I was always aware my town was conservative on most issues. There were barely any openly out people in the community because of the stigma that comes with being gay. I hadn’t even come out as being gay then (it’s only been recent that I’ve been comfortable with my sexual orientation), but I knew that Latinos are affected by HIV & AIDS. My fellow classmates had the right to be informed and educated on how they could protect themselves. I was not going to be stopped.

There are over 76,000 young people are currently living with HIV across the country. An estimated 15% of diagnoses of HIV infection in 13 to 19 year olds were in Latino young people.

How is this possible? My generation has been taught to fear this big disease with a little name since we were young.  We have never, ever, known a world without AIDS. In the thirty years since AIDS has gripped the world, iPods, landlines, and two Popes have come and gone, but somehow AIDS has remained.

It is my deepest hope that my generation, the Millennial generation, finds an end to this disease, but we’re not  just sitting on the sidelines waiting for something to happen. Young people want end this epidemic, I know it. We have the right to live in an AIDS-free generation, and for that to happen we all must do our part. We must hold our leaders accountable, and we must acknowledge the great work young people are doing in the fight against HIV & AIDS.

Young people are out there, right now, working to reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS in our communities. According to research from Advocates for Youth, seven in ten Latinos say they would work to reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS in their community. From helping pass the NC Healthy Youth Act of 2009, which gives access to accurate information on sexual issues including HIV and AIDS, to being a part of the hundreds of campuses that distribute condoms and information through the Great American Condom Campaign, I’ve learned that we must all do our part to make a difference. We understand that knowledge is key, and we are eager for more information to protect ourselves. This is true among Millennials of color especially, among whom 50% want more information on HIV & AIDS.

Young people know that we must educate and include as many people as possible, including places that lack educational and health resources and where stigma runs high.

The impact young people will have in ending this epidemic cannot be minimized. We will bring about change, but we need to be empowered to do so. This is why I encourage all youth to take part in National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day , today, April 10th. National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is a day to educate the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people as well as highlight the amazing work young people are doing across the country to fight the HIV & AIDS epidemic in the United States.

There has been much talk about an AIDS-free generation, but it’s not possible without our nation’s youth.  Young people and our allies are determined to end this epidemic once and for all, and we need support and recognition along the way.

I want to live in a world where all young people have the information and resources to make healthy decisions for ourselves, our partners, and our families. A world where we are free from fear and stigma. And a world where we celebrate youth for our dedication and innovation in the fight against HIV & AIDS.  I know we can get there. Take part in National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day on April 10 to empower youth in your life to change their communities for the better.

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by Olivia Standifer, a National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day ambassador through Advocates for Youth, and currently lives in South Carolina where she received her Bachelor’s in Health Promotion from Coastal Carolina University.  

Today’s young people are the first generation who has never known a world without HIV and AIDS. In the United States, one in four new cases of HIV is among youth ages 13 to 24, and 60% who have the virus don’t even know it. I am determined to see that this epidemic is put to an end. To do so, I have become an ambassador for National Youth HIV& AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) which will be observed for the first time on  April 10th. As an ambassador, I am responsible for arranging different activities around the community and educating others on the topic of HIV & AIDS.

Every day, at least one person asks me what I do for a living, and I tell them I work with individuals who are living with HIV & AIDS by providing treatment, awareness, and prevention to these individuals. Automatically people’s first response is “What made you want to do that?” or “It takes a certain type of person to want to work with such a horrible disease.” I’m never quite sure what “a certain type of person” means, but the drive behind my devotion to work with HIV & AIDS comes a very personal place – my own family.

This disease has been a part of my life since I can remember. My uncle became HIV positive around the time I was born, so it has unfortunately become something that my family has become accustomed to. The older I got, the more aware I became of how this disease was affecting my family and my uncle. For the past 12 years, I’ve watched this wretched disease change my uncle and seen how his life was never the same after.

My uncle was first diagnosed with HIV back in 1986; my family was of course distraught and confused and did not know which way to turn for help. Back then there was not nearly enough education, awareness, or the proper medication for this disease, so to my family it was a huge scare, especially to my grandmother, his mother. She felt like there was no help for her son. Her biggest fear was that she was going to have to watch her son die from this disease. My grandmother had already lost a son at birth, so her fear of losing another son was a heartache she couldn’t imagine. The fact that my uncle was gay also made my grandmother become even more concerned with how he was going to receive care. My family never judged him because of his sexual orientation, but we knew society would. I believe that scared my grandmother the most.

I was about 11 years old when I began to really get involved with different activities around the community involving people living with HIV & AIDS. When HIV first came about it was known as a “gay man’s” disease. But in the generation that I have grown up in, it has affected everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, age, race, gender, or socio-economic status. And now, the biggest impact is being felt by young people.

We didn’t talk about my uncle’s disease much.  But we, especially my grandmother, looked after him. Her love and concern for my uncle was undeniable, and it still is. It was in seeing how much that love and care really helped my uncle get through such a tough struggle that I knew I had to help other people living with HIV in the same way.

I have since dedicated my life to HIV & AIDS prevention and education. I went to college at Coastal Carolina University and majored in Health Promotion. This gave me the opportunity to gain more knowledge on statistics, research, new medications that are out there, and what more I could do to get involved. As a senior, I did my internship at Careteam, Inc. located in Myrtle Beach, SC and had the chance to do hands-on HIV & AIDS prevention work.  When I learned about NYHAAD, I knew I had to be a part of it.

There are other young people out there who are like me. Young people who are committed to ending this epidemic once and for all. Young people who are on the ground working for change, educating their peers, standing up to school boards, bringing truth to the myths.  For us, HIV is a disease that can easily be prevented with the right education, proper awareness, and resources in our communities. That’s what young people need to fight this disease. Stand with us so we can make that happen. Not just for my uncle, but for the many others who are living with HIV and for all of us who want to live to see a world free from AIDS.

 

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Age should not be a reason that youth are not involved in the fight against HIV & AIDS. If anything, we should be at the forefront because our age group, 15-25, are at the greatest risk of contracting STIs.

A few key things that could be done for young people to fight against HIV/AIDS is to grant all young people access to comprehensive sexual health education – whether that be in a school setting or an organization providing the education for you. Not only do we need to know the STDs that are out there, but we need to know sign/symptoms, how to contract and transmit them, and whether or not they are curable. HIV/AIDS is not only incurable but can take up to 6 months to show up on a STD test, which is why we should all be encouraged to get tested regularly.

Another key suggestion for young people to fight against HIV/AIDS, is that there should also be more programs that teach the necessary skills – condom use and talking about HIV with a partner – so that young people are equipped, before having sex, with the tools to protect themselves. Most importantly, it should be emphasized that using condoms SHOULD NOT be negotiable… ideally, if young people are taught proper ways to use condoms and why they should, hopefully they will understand the importance of consistent and correct condom usage.

As we celebrate our first ever National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day on April 10th , please remember its purpose! This day is to educate the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people, as well as highlight the amazing work young people are doing across the country to fight the HIV & AIDS epidemic. To keep it simple…SAFE SEX is the BEST SEX and always remember to PROTECT YOURSELF and GET TESTED!

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Today’s the day you’ve been waiting for, the FIRST EVER National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD)! Today we acknowledge young people’s great work fighting the HIV & AIDS epidemic, and hold our leaders accountable to prioritizing young people in the fight against HIV & AIDS.

Show your love for NYHAAD! :

1.  Tweet  and post on Facebook about the day

2.  Take a selfie! Download (right-click and choose save as), print out, and take a picture with this image – then tweet your pic to @youthaidsday

3.  Visit Amplify to hear from AMAZING youth activists who work every day to end this epidemic.

4.  Join @YouthAIDSDay @TheBodyDotCom @_CaressaCameron @GeminiInstinct and @lstallworth0 from 2PM – 3PM EST today for a Twitter chat on #youth and #HIV, follow with #NYHAADchat.

5.  Find a NYHAAD event near you via the official NYHAAD map.

Let’s make this happen!

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I created a Tumblr Post for NYHAAD, and if anyone would like to reblog it I have linked it here:  http://allie-nic0le.tumblr.com/post/47572877867/april-10th-is-national-hiv-and-aids-awareness-day

Let’s spread the awareness and get people motivated!

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 “Sex should be taught in the home” “it’s the parents responsibility to educate their children about sex”, “school is not the appropriate place to talk about sex”. How many people have heard at least one of these statements regarding sex education in schools? However, what “adults” fail to realize is that their children are constantly being taught about sex. They are taught about sex through the TV, magazines, and friends just to name a few sources. In fact, the only place teenagers are not being taught about sex is in the schools, unless you count what is written on the walls in the bathrooms or in the stalls. Adults have this fear that if they educate teenagers about sex, than somehow they are encouraging teenagers to have sex. It is that type of close minded thinking that hinders teenagers and children from making autonomous and educated decisions around sex. Consider the story of Jamie.

             Jamie grew up in a small city in Petersburg, Virginia. Petersburg public school system did not include sex education into the curriculum. In fact, the closest thing to sex education that Jamie received was learning about the reproductive process in Health class in the 7th grade. Needless to say that Jamie did not receive any information about sex from her family. All they would tell her about sex was that it was for married couples only. If she continued to ask questions or show curiosity about sex, her family would condemn and criticize her for her curiosity. Jamie eventually learned that she could not talk with her family about sex and that school was not going to educate her about it either. Like most teenagers, Jamie turned to her friends for advice.

            Jamie’s friends did not know much about sex either. It was like the blind leading the blind. They believed notions like, if you have sex standing up that will circumvent pregnancy and if you douched after sex that would remove all the sperm inside. What they did not know was that these were both myths and not fact-based. Jamie became sexually active and followed the instructions of her friends. A week after becoming sexually active, Jamie became pregnant. The question remains, what could have been done to prevent this from happening?

            There are a number of reasons why this happened to Jamie. Firstly, Jamie’s family did not provide her with sex education. They were intimidated and uncomfortable with providing her with information about sex. Unfortunately, this is true for a lot of parents. Some parents believe that educating their children about sex means giving them permission to go out and have sex. Other parents have this notion of “my parents didn’t teach me about sex and I turned out ok. They will figure it out on their own”. In addition to Jamie’s parents not be willing to educate her about sex, her school was also not willing to do so. Petersburg public school system believed that sex education was a family matter and should be discussed in the home. So, if teens aren’t being taught by their parents or by the school system, who do you think is teaching them about sex? The answer is the media and their friends, both of which may not be credible and educated sources.

            To put it simply, Jamie became pregnant due to lack of knowledge. In a weird way, Jamie’s situation could have ended more catastrophically. Instead of becoming pregnant, she could have contracted an incurable STI like Herpes or HIV and possibly passed the infection on to her child. The story of Jamie illustrates that teenagers are perishing due to lack of knowledge. By denying teenagers access to credible comprehensive sex education, we, as a society, are basically telling them to figure it out on their own. However, teens WILL make mistakes if left to educate themselves about sex. We have to take charge and not allow our youth to make life changing mistakes. In order to do this, we must begin educating them. Comprehensive sex education will give children and teens the information and resources they need to make responsible and informative decisions about sex and relationships.

            When adults hear about having comprehensive sex education in schools, they automatically think of 5 year olds being taught how to put on a condom. However, I think it is important to inform adults and parents that when we say comprehensive sex education, we mean age-appropriate comprehensive sex education. In addition, comprehensive sex education is not just about sex. It also encompasses topics such as healthy relationships and dating violence prevention. For example, a 5 year old student may be taught about “good touch” and “bad touch”. An eighth grade student may be taught about what a healthy and unhealthy relationship entails. Parents and adults may ask, “How will comprehensive sex education help children and teens make smart choices about sex?” Comprehensive sex education provides young people with power. Knowledge is power. The purpose of comprehensive sex education is to provide age appropriate information to children and teens, in order for them to have the tools to make their own informative decisions about sex.

Parents and adults may also ask “What do young people need to fight HIV/AIDS?” Again, the greatest weapon that we can give young people to fight against HIV/AIDS, STIs, pregnancy, dating violence, etc. is to provide them with knowledge. That means providing them with age appropriate comprehensive sex education and allowing them to take charge of their own education. It is important to allow young people to have an input in regards to what they want to learn about sex. Comprehensive sex education must include topics that young people feel are important to them. Young people not only need comprehensive sex education, but they also need to be able to actively participate in educating themselves. Their opinions and thoughts regarding topics within comprehensive sex education must be valued and heard, in order to create change.

 

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Tomorrow is the first ever National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day. Why is it important you ask? Here’s why

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A few weeks back  I listened attentively to ‘SOS Doctor’, one of the best health programs that be on Radio in Cameroon. As I listened, I got very happy at the great job that Dr. Dion Grace, a member of the National AIDS Control Committee of Cameroon was doing to educate Cameroonians on anti-retroviral drugs. She eloquently and insightfully answered every one of the questions that were posed to her by listeners who called-in and am sure her intervention in the program was a timely one. Everything was fine until when a listener called-in to ask what is it that could be done to reduce stigma on people who are on anti-retroviral drugs. Dr. Dion as usual gave a very insightful answer to this question going as far as citing the example of Ivory Coast where the drugs are put in anonymous packages so that they can be taken by patients without fear of stigma by the people around them. She went ahead to cite cases where some special containers of various doses is been used in some countries to reduce stigma. This was quiet interesting to know, but when she started advising people on anti-retroviral that they could tell people around them that they are taking vitamins or pills in order to avoid stigmatization I grumbled the following to myself: Do I have to be so ashamed of my status that I have to lie to others?

I have no statistics on this but I can assure you that having to lie on your HIV status is the order of the day in Cameroon especially amongst young people to avoid stigma and discrimination.  Well, this to an extend is understandable given that People Living With  HIV/AIDS(PLWHA)  are considered as being punished by God for either their sisns or those committed by their family. But when telling a lie to avoid stigma is a behaviour that is reinforced health professionals, I have reservations and clearly doubt how efficient this approach could be.

I am utterly convinced that a problem can only be solved if its root cause(s) is/are carefully tackled. As a young person living in a society where most PLWHA are young persons, I compare telling a lie on your HIV/AIDS status to survive to deliberately refusing to tackle the problem from it’s source and launching an attack on its leaves instead.

To reduce stigma in the most sustainable way possible, education rather than lies is required.Young  People, their families, and the communities in which People on anti-retroviral drugs have to be educated on the dangers of stigma and on the importance of accepting PLWHA. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations’ Secretary-General,  vividly spelt out society’s responsibility to PLWHA when he declared that,  “We can fight stigma. Enlightened laws and policies are key. But it begins with openness, the courage to speak out. Schools should teach respect and understanding. Religious leaders should preach tolerance. The media should condemn prejudice and use its influence to advance social change, from securing legal protections to ensuring access to health care.”

Lies do nothing but contribute in amplifying the myth around HIV/AIDS in the Cameroonian society. People on anti-retroviral drugs do not need to lie on their status to survive stigma, they need to accept themselves as they are and deserve the care and protection that every other human being is due by the society in which they live.They deserve to live a real life and not a life of lies.

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Video From NAW 2013!!!

Thanks to Advocates For Youth, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s National Advocacy Weekend for 5 days this past March. As I packed my bags and boarded the plane that would take me from Ithaca, NY to Washington DC, I had no clue as to the intense intellectual, emotional, and passionate environment I was about to step into.

This year’s Advocacy Weekend was focused on the inclusion of immigrant women’s health care in immigration reform. Immigration policy directly affects an immigrant woman’s access to health care. According to the NLIRH website, the majority of female immigrants do not have healthcare coverage. State legislatures continue to introduce legislation that would restrict non-citizens’ access to basic public health programs, including prenatal care. Immigrant women are less likely to receive adequate reproductive health care, including cervical and breast cancer screening and treatment, family planning services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, accurate sex education and culturally and linguistically competent services.

Reproductive Justice tells us that these services are essential for women to have the basic human rights to dignity and self determination. It was under this belief that over 50 activists from across the country joined together. We represented the full spectrum of american latina identity- some of us were undocumented, others were second and third generation citizens. Our command of English and Spanish differed, but we were united in our conviction, and most of all in our support of one another.

Yo te apoyo. This is one of NLIRH’s campaign slogans, and it was this sentiment that was most felt throughout the weekend. As we learned about the intricacies of immigration reform and of it’s intersections with Reproductive Justice, we were free to voice our personal experiences and frustrations. People spoke of very personal obstacles- young motherhood, the pain of familial disruption by deportation, the inability to be seen by a doctor for a cyst in the breast- openly and honestly, and were always received with respect and the assurance that they had in their power the ability to create change.

At the rally for Immigrant Women on Sunday, speakers shouted, “We are on the right side of history!” to a church full of applause. I clapped and shouted right along.  It was only later that I questioned the assurance I felt that this is true. I suppose I feel that I am “on the right side of history” when I am working with people who sound least like a history textbook.. People who choose not to simplify and sterilize an issue, because they are not afraid to admit to and confront the complexity and diversity of it. People who gain collective power through their willingness to admit to vulnerability, to the need to support and be supported in their struggle.

 

For more information about the issue of Immigrant women’s access to healthcare, and how it is affected by immigration policy, check out:

Our Issues: Immigrant Rights

The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants

 

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Here are a few things you probably didn’t know:

 

1) Among ages 13-24, 1000 young people acquire HIV EVERY MONTH

2) 34,000 young people RIGHT NOW are living with HIV

3) Young African Americans are generally more affected.

 

61% of Millennials of color say that staying healthy is the main priority so WHY are they the most affected? The reason for this is simple: a lack of information. No one (at least not in their right mind) wants to contract HIV – we may want to have sex but we certainly don’t want to contract an STI in the process. More adults need to acknowledge that the young people they know may be having sex and help them get all the information and services they need to protect themselves and be healthy. Right now in the U.S. one in four young women 15 to 19 years old has a sexually transmitted infection. This cannot go on. We need to ensure young people’s right to information and services to lead healthy lives. Young people, too often, have been denied their right to sex education and sexual health services. The month of April is National Get Yourself Tested Month so do yourself a favor and go get tested and while you’re at it get your partner tested too- as a matter-of-fact get a bunch of friends together and get tested as a team. The best friendships are healthy friendships. Spread the information about testing sites and the information you just acquired to help everyone in your community lead a healthy lifestyle.

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Tattoos can be beautiful, permanent works of art, but use an infected needle and they could be your worse nightmare. HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease that can be transmitted via shared needles because of the mixing of blood. So if you are a recipient of a “backyard tattoo” and you are not sure whether or not the artist used clean needles or properly cleaned the equipment, you could have put yourself at risk for HIV/AIDS transmission. The same holds true for piercing equipment.

To prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS ask yourself at “any point in time will I be in direct and unprotected contact with vaginal secretions, semen, blood or breast milk of an infected person?”  If the answer is no chances are you are safe. You do not always know the status of people you encounter so you ALWAYS need to protect yourself! Even if you or a partner is on a fabulous method of birth control to prevent unintended pregnancies, you still need to protect against STDs – so use a condom! SAFE SEX is the BEST SEX!

Categories: HIV