Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Relations, Criminalization, Safety and HIV From a Public Health Perspective

Warning Signs. Source: Wikipedia. What do you carry in your hood?

SUMMARY: In this write up, we explore private and public interest issues; individual responsibility; impact of HIV on personal conduct; and  access to fair treatment in case of conflict with criminal laws.

        We hear the terms neighborhood or motherhood in our day to day conversation. They resonate with continuity in form of relation, reliance, subsistence and care. They are part of our relations with each other. They are part of our livelihood. HIV has impacted on the way humans relate with each other. This is manifested in many ways. HIV has generated social action towards the affected and infected. It has been in form of compassionate regard, psychosocial support, care, treatment, connections. Tensions have arisen, no doubt, as well as disregard of the plight of people living with HIV.  It should not escape anybody that throughout human history diseases have been looked upon as curses or the result of a punishment for sins by a Divine being. We have come a long way in addressing epidemics and the way we treat those we suspect of having come close to what we fear tantamounts into the wrath of the Divine. HIV impacts a variety of levels in society. Different generations are grasping this fact in different ways and phases. This mix of things is the HIVhood we need to embrace. It is part of our mobility and livelihoods now.

        HIV has brought its own paraphernalia or objects of the trade, as it were. These range from small protein bits (prion) that have a life of their own, are so stubborn, destructive to human cells and cause AIDS if one is not provided treatment. Such words or letters that make the HIV world are: virus; AIDS; Sero-sorting; sero-concordant; discordant; bodily fluids; transmission; dehydration; viral load; protection; ARV; PCP; KS; TB; Candida; herpes;CMV; end stage AIDS; respiratory problems; PrEP; Condoms; US National HIV/AIDS Strategy; policy; laws; health care workers; Truvada; AHF; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND); and STDs to name but a few. HIV is a motley of events and experiences. HIV is happening side by side with human relations and these relations have not stopped yet. Relations will continue even while HIV exists. HIV should not be seen as a death sentence nor should it be the reason to stigmatize those suspected or those said to be living with it.

       People are social animals. People connect with each other. To connect is to acknowledge one another. It is a rite of passage. Connections are cumulative, resulting from repetitive actions such as listening to others. To be connected is to bond with say, an empathetic person. It is one way we all get to know each other's interests and dislikes. Connections tame and make us accountable. Connections enable us to understand each other or realize we can agree to disagree. Connections are an opportunity to share points of view, opinions, differences and similarities. In some cases relations are consummated sexually. Connections should encourage negotiated safer sex as far as HIV is concerned. This builds in us the ability to value one another and be mindful of the consequences consensual sex. This sets the pace for safe relations. Safety is an important point as far HIV is concerned. Safety is shared responsibility and this calls for: voluntary HIV status check-ups; knowing one's HIV status; partner notification and disclosure; adherence to treatment regimen; and protection during sexual intercourse. These are both private and public interests. A person with HIV, should know that  his/her sense of self are now oriented around HIV. Confidence, curiosity and one's place in the world are now impacted upon by HIV. The person should gauge how much events, images, words, laws, social norms, and experiences present opportunities or barriers to maintaining a healthy sense of self. There are connections between the self-concept, health and well-being. These connections should be part of an awareness of expectations, responsibilities and contributions.

         HIV has made all of us more aware of safety issues. HIV provides an opportunity to understand that safety lays grounds for confidentiality, privacy and security in our lives. Safety, is said to occur when one is protected from danger, risk or injury. Words such as trust, fidelity and secure come into mind. When safety is breached, our privacy will be in turmoil. HIV criminalization capitalizes on this in the name of public interest.

         In situations where we think our trust has been betrayed then these words or experiences go on in our minds: violation, culprits, victims. predation, prey, abuse, abuser and abused. There are fears that we should guard against as we make say, decisions, policy and resolutions about HIV and those affected and infected. People living with HIV need help with: knowledge on living with HIV; empowerment and support towards their self-worth; knowledge of the consequences of transmission;  housing; improved mental health services; companionship; access to health care; support with legal, financial, employment, education services; long-term survival support services; treatment; resources; and dialogue against HIVphobia. 

HIV Must Not Win!