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Research into the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa
Can you assist?
While reflecting recently on the escalating deaths from HIV in South Africa I found myself wondering why, despite the ongoing efforts towards education, treatment and prevention, does the rate of HIV infection continue to escalate.
I believe there is a need to establish a balance between treatment and prevention as none of us, I’m sure, wishes to see anyone die when there are drugs available that can prolong life from between 10 and 15 years. In many countries, including South Africa, a great deal of money is being spent on treatment and very little is, comparatively speaking, being spend on prevention. The result is, people are still being infected and the rate of infection is in fact escalating.
The Government, various politicians and the health ministry are very happy when they can say they are spending lots of money in the ongoing treatment of pregnant women in order to prevent mother to child transmission, or treating children who were HIV positive at birth. The question however is, are they equally happy to allocate money to help young people who are having sex, to help those having sex with multiple partners or to assist drug users who are sharing needles to assist in preventing them from becoming infected in the first place.
Circulating condoms and advertising as a means of prevention is not enough. A great deal more needs to be done. Considering this issue and what exactly should or could be done, made me think of the lifestyles of people in general and not just those prone to infection. My personal feeling and take on the issue of prevention is that it is the lifestyle of people we need to research and investigate if our efforts at prevention are to be successful. What I am referring to is how individuals live their lives and what it is in a particular life style that puts them at risk.
Consider the following questions
- Is a person who drinks and likes a good party more likely to be at risk than a person who does not drink?
- Is a married woman or man who has affairs more likely to be at risk?
- Is a Homosexual more likely to be at risk?
- What sexual activities, in the lives of individuals, straight or gay, might play a role in causing infection?
- Is a lesbian safe, or less likely to be infected because her partner is female?
- What impact, if any, might the use of “sex toys” or sex aids have on the potential for spreading infection.
- How can lifestyles be changed in order to assist in the prevention of infection?
- Are there other issues or areas where you feel people are at risk?
These are some of the questions I would like some answers to and aspects of individual lifestyles I would like to research.
What I want to research is - what can be done, considering the lifestyles of individuals, to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS?
In order to do this I seek your assistance, your honesty and your unbiased input. What I do not want is comment on what you consider to be right or wrong.
The subject matter is and has been for a long time – “a no go area for open discussion”. The questions are frowned upon and are taboo.
In many instances this in itself is part of the problem and this is why much of the effort towards prevention fails.
If speaking or writing openly on sexual preferences help us in the prevention of HIV and AIDS then it is time we started speaking openly. If this is a means of saving lives then let’s get issues out into the open. If we can start explaining to young people and to our children how certain lifestyles contribute to the spread of HIV and AIDS instead of just telling them to avoid such lifestyles then perhaps our efforts towards prevention will be more successful.
What I seek is your opinion and the opinion of your friends and acquaintances on some of the issues I raised above. In particular I would like the opinion of those in multiple relationships, of gay people – male or female. I would like the input of parents or the opinions of children and young people.
What I do not want is criticism of the lifestyle of others. I am not concerned with opinions on what is right and wrong even though I value those opinions. Personal preferences will not save lives and prevent infection.
What I am asking for is that we be realistic on the issue of prevention. We need to acknowledge how others live, irrespective of whether or not we agree with their lifestyles, and use this information as a means of assisting others in making informed choices in life. We need to take the mystery out of certain lifestyles and we need to find ways of removing the need to investigate certain situations in order to assist others, while at the same time making inroads into the prevention of HIV infection.
We need to be open and honest with our children, our grandchildren and with or school children if we are to prevent the ongoing spread of HIV and AIDS.
Please feel free to respond via the Skills Universe or directly to me at [email protected]
If you refer this request to others who want to contact me directly please feel free to forward my contact details to them.
All responses will be treated in the strictest confidence.