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									Nick Stopera

WRT 205

Janell Haynes

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                                               (title)

       The mid-to-late twentieth century saw mankind's first true triumph over a disease:

Smallpox, a disease that had xxx, was finally eliminated by a controlled campaign to end the

scourge, having officially been eradicated in 1979 (WHO | Smallpox). At the same time one

infamous disease was eliminated, another one was rising up - the Human Immunodeficiency

Virus, abbreviated HIV. Although not as infectious due to its method of transmission being by

bodily fluids, as opposed to smallpox's airborne transmission, HIV has proven so far to have no

cure or vaccination, and thus education and prevention are the only ways to try to stop the spread

of this disease. The public education system is the primary and easiest way to spread this

information, but the AIDS service organizations that have developed in the wake of the virus'

impact on communities have attempted to spread information to educate people, too.

       AIDS service organizations primarily provide services to those with HIV/AIDS, such as

support and companionship, and physical help such as checking on the progress of the drugs

used to keep the disease under control. These organizations first came about in the 1980s to

provide support for those infected, and were mostly volunteer-based. However, this reliance on

volunteers led to faults in the programs, as the lack of compensation, high levels of stress in

dealing with these cases, and rapid increases in the numbers of people needing help and support

led to overload (Penner, 218). The San Francisco Department of Public Health was one of the
first to create a viable service model and allowed the public and private sectors to work together,

creating "an innovative, community-based care system that provides comprehensive, cost-

effective, and caring services to persons in all stages of HIV infection and risk and that is

emulated by cities all over the world," (Penner, 219). Now that the organizations could support

themselves and provide support to those with HIV, they could take on an additional task of

trying to educate people about the disease and how to prevent its spread.

       The spread of informational materials via pamphlets is one of the primary ways these

organizations go about educating people, along with meetings open to the public, support of

demonstrations, petitions, and encouragements to write to officials and leaders to convince them

to support legislation that would be beneficial to the community. As Jennings and Andersen

point out in their analysis of the participation of AIDS activists, the majority contribute money to

organizations and the related causes, but less so go to the meetings and rallies, where they could

help people learn and spread information about the subjects they are passionate about (184).

Despite this emphasis on financial donations, or perhaps because of it, some organizations have

claimed that their objectives have been met, and that they have successfully changed the

communities they have been working in for the better (Arp, 554). If everything was going so

well, then the communities would be properly educated about HIV and its modes of

transmission, and the infection rated would drop off and eventually the disease would die off in

these communities, as it would stop spreading. That is not what has been happening - the rate has

been increasing. Recent news reports show that the infection rate in Washington, D.C. has

reached three percent, triple the worldwide infection rate, and easily above the epidemic

threshold (Vargas). What went wrong?

       In William Arp III's case study of presentation strategies in three black communities in
Louisiana, he argues that the educational campaigns don't change the behavior of someone, but

rather they have been focused on making people answer questions abut HIV/AIDS correctly, not

guaranteeing any change (554). It is true that the information is being put out there, but it fails to

address at-risk groups specifically. The use of condoms and safe-sex behavior is emphasized by

these organizations, as that is where the majority of transmission comes from, but it can also

come from drug use by sharing needles between multiple people. He continues to argue that the

state of Louisiana has not been willing to bring drug abuse in black communities to a stop, and

this has continued to fuel the spread of HIV, especially among the impoverished, who are more

likely to use drugs (558). In Washington DC, seven percent of black men have HIV (Vargas).

While the need to target at-risk groups of people who have not been infected yet remains high

and crucial in preventing the spread of the disease, the education of those already having HIV

may be the most important task of all in the slowing of the spread of the disease.

       While it may seem that teaching someone about the prevention of a disease after they

already have it does not make sense and could be a waste of time, it is estimated that over

seventy percent of those with HIV continue with sexual activities after they find out they have

the disease, and some still engage in risky behavior (Positive prevention). Since people with HIV

are the ones who spread the disease, teaching these people about ways to minimize the accidental

spread of HIV can greatly reduce the infection rates. Because of the direction of helpful

information to those who do not have the disease, those with the disease can end up knowing less

about HIV and its transmission, can lack a commitment to safer behaviors, can increase their

chances of getting another sexually transmitted disease, and can run the risk of infection by

another strain of HIV, which can lead to the development of drug-resistant strains (Positive

prevention). GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company which has developed more medicines
for HIV than other companies, has launched an initiative called "A Positive Life," which

provides AIDS service organizations with both information for those without HIV and those with

HIV, in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease (HIV education initiative).

       The continuation and support of programs such as "Positive prevention," the section of A

Positive Life aimed at AIDS service organizations to encourage them to teach people who

already have HIV to be committed to safe sex, along with the targeting of other target groups,

such as the impoverished in inner cities and in southern states, will be a great improvement to the

current educational and prevention efforts against HIV. The education of those who are at the

lowest risk of infection - generally white, middle and upper class - is most accessible to them

through the public school system, although, as Arp mentions, this too needs to be improved to

focus on changing behaviors, not just memorization of safe sex behaviors (554). The AIDS

service organizations and activists need to change their focus to those at high risk for infection,

and also to those whom are already infected. By changing the focus of these education initiatives

and better educating people, the spread of HIV can be slowed down, and less people will need to

wait for a cure.
                                        Works Cited

World Health Organization. "WHO | Smallpox." Unknown. 15 March 2009

<http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/smallpox/en/>

Penner, Susan. "A Study of Coalitions among HIV/AIDS Service Organizations." Sociological

Perspectives 38.2 (1995): 217-239.

Jennings, M. Kent, and Ellen Ann Andersen. "The Importance of Social and Political Context:

The Case of AIDS Activism." Political Behavior 25.2 (2003): 177-199.

Arp III, William. "HIV/AIDS nd Nondecision in Louisiana: A Case Study of Prevention Strategy

in Three Black Communities." Journal of Black Studies 34.4 (2004): 548-561.

Vargas, Jose Antonio and Darryl Fears. "HIV/AIDS Rate in D.C. Hits 3%." The Washington
Post 15 March 2009. 15 March 2009 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-

dyn/content/article/2009/03/14/AR2009031402176.html>

"Positive prevention target populations." APositiveLife. 2007. 4 March 2009

<http://www.apositivelife.com/forasos/positive-prevention-target-populations.html>

"GlaxoSmithKline introduces HIV education initiative for community-based AIDS service

organizations." United States Homepage - GlaxoSmithKline. 20 March 2007. 4 March 2009

<http://us.gsk.com/html/media-news/pressreleases/2007/2007_03_20_GSK1041.htm>

								
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