Social Justice Challenge: AIDS

This month’s Social Justice Challenge theme is AIDS. I remember when AIDS was all over the headlines – I was a new physical therapist living in the San Francisco Bay area and the fear around this illness was rampant … and so were the misconceptions and myths. Luckily, we are now all better educated about this disease and how it spreads. But I thought I would post a few facts about AIDS:

AIDS is not the same as HIV:

HIV stands for ‘human immunodeficiency virus’. HIV is a virus that infects cells of the human immune system and destroys or impairs their function. Infection with this virus results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system eventually leading to ‘immune deficiency’. Infections associated with severe immunodeficiency are known as ‘opportunistic infections.’ AIDS stands for ‘acquired immunodeficiency syndrome’ and the diagnosis of AIDS is based on signs, symptoms, infections, and cancers associated with the deficiency of the immune system that stems from infection with HIV. SO, someone can be infected with the HIV virus, but not yet have acquired AIDS.

Diagnosis:

The only way to determine whether HIV is present in a person’s body is by testing for HIV antibodies or for HIV itself. The majority of people infected with HIV, if not treated, develop signs of HIV-related illness within 5-10 years, but the time between infection with HIV and being diagnosed with AIDS can be 10–15 years, sometimes longer. – from Un-AIDS Fast Facts

Transmission:

HIV is spread by sexual contact with an infected person, by sharing needles and/or syringes (primarily for drug injection) with someone who is infected, or, less commonly (and now very rarely in countries where blood is screened for HIV antibodies), through transfusions of infected blood or blood clotting factors. Babies born to HIV-infected women may become infected before or during birth or through breastfeeding after birth. – from the CDC website

Other facts about transmission:

  • Health care workers have been infected with HIV after being stuck with needles containing HIV-infected blood or, less frequently, after infected blood gets into a worker’s open cut or a mucous membrane (for example, the eyes or inside of the nose).
  • Mosquitoes do NOT transmit HIV infection. HIV does not survive well in the environment, making the possibility of environmental transmission remote.
  • Casual contact through closed-mouth or “social” kissing is not a risk for transmission of HIV.

HIV has been found in saliva and tears in very low quantities from some AIDS patients. It is important to understand that finding a small amount of HIV in a body fluid does not necessarily mean that HIV can be transmitted by that body fluid. HIV has not been recovered from the sweat of HIV-infected persons. Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV. – from the CDC website

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This month I intend to read a non fiction book by Melissa Fay Greene titled: There is No Me Without You. This is a story about Mrs. Haragewoin, a middle-class Ethiopian widow who turned her home into a refuge for hundreds of children with AIDS.

Melissa Fay Greene is an award winning journalist who has written about many topics of social justice including civil rights, coal mine disasters, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. To learn more about Greene and her work, visit the author’s website.

ACTION STEP:

I have decided to join the amazing people over at Quilts for Kids and craft a quilt for a sick child. Quilts for Kids distributes quilts in the United States to children in hospitals who are battling life-threatening illnesses, including AIDS. Their mission statement:

Transforming discontinued, unwanted and other fabrics into patchwork quilts that comfort children with life-threatening illnesses and children of abuse.

I am really excited about doing this project. I am not sure I will complete it before the end of May due to my trip to NYC at the end of the month for the BEA. BUT, I will definitely get it done by mid-June and will share it with you before I send it off to Quilts for Kids.

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5 comments

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  1. I have to get back on this challenge. Last month was so busy that I didnt even try but this one is one I ride in a bike tour for every year and raise money for Aids research and for a camp we have here in Brainerd.

    Thanks for reminding me of the Social Challenge.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful challenge, and I might like to participate. South of Broad also has some sections dealing with AIDS that I think you will find very touching.

    • sumana on May 10, 2010 at 13:18

    I am joining this month too… at the end of the week I will post about it..I came up with 28: Stories of Aids in Africa by Stephanie Nolen..
    Making a quilt is such an wonderful idea…I bet yours will be loved by some child…

  3. I’ll be anxious to see the quilt when you finish this project, Wendy. I’m sure it will be absolutely gorgeous. What an incredible gift! And as Zibilee mentioned, South of Broad deals with AIDS, too. Very good book, by the way. I think you’ll enjoy it!

    • Wendy on May 12, 2010 at 07:03
      Author

    Sheila: The bike ride sounds wonderful – good for you for getting involved to raise money in that way!

    Zibilee: Thanks for the heads up on the AIDS info in South of Broad…I had no idea it touched on that.

    Sumana: I’ll look forward to reading your post once you get it up.

    Les: I love an excuse to craft a quilt for a child! I have the fabrics picked out…now I just have to devise a pattern.

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