Dr. Lorna Adams writes…Very soon it will be December 1, World Aids Day. A time to once again think about the pandemic in Africa, the management of it and the devastation of it. We can think about the ways that we in this amazing country of Canada can help those that are working to support people living with HIV/AIDS, to decrease the new infection rate and to treat adults and children already infected.
I have worked with both organizations that Give a Day supports, both directly in Malawi with Dignitas International, and indirectly with the Stephen Lewis Foundation. I have seen the remarkable transformation that occurs when people are able to be treated with the appropriate medications, and when grandmothers are assisted in raising their grandchildren who have been orphaned by the illness of their parents. I have seen when people are able to overcome the stigma of an AIDS diagnosis, and go out in public to openly assist those currently trapped with the shame and stigma of the diagnosis.
I met this woman on a bus in Zimbabwe, a country thoroughly traumatized by an ineffectual government, and the AIDS pandemic. The stigma of the disease is reinforced by the limited access to effective treatment. Once people are on treatment, have put on some weight, have returned to work, and have regained a sense of dignity and control of their lives, they are much more comfortable letting others know of their diagnosis, and encouraging others to come forward to be tested and treated. I asked her if I could take her picture, and use it to assist in raising awareness and funds to fight the pandemic. I told her that it meant that this picture would be public, for all to see. She looked at me, and smiled, and said, “I am already advertising my HIV positive status with my shirt, Madam”. Yes, I said, and thank you.
Please, consider the amazing change that your donation of just one day’s pay could effect for so many of those affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.
This guest post is contributed by Dr. Lorna Adams. She is a physician currently working at Southlake Regional Health Centre and a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres/MSF). She recently returned from working with MSF in South Sudan.