December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day and we took the time to mark the occasion on Friday, generally a day when we have the most success turning out a crowd of people to listen to an education session.

I said a few words about HIV and AIDS and the importance of having regular CD4 counts if a person is positive. This message might be familiar to readers of this blog from an earlier post on this topic.

The highlight for me was three women on anti-retroviral drugs who spoke about their experience with HIV and how they got started on ARVs.

From top to bottom, that’s Elsie, Nobathembu, and Pakama. I’ve told the stories of Nobathembu and Pakama on this blog before.

None of them spoke for very long but I was impressed by the passion and forthrightness with which they spoke. Given that there is still a lot of stigma associated with HIV here, it was wonderful that they openly said they had HIV, reported how low their CD4 counts were before they started on ARVs, and talked about they had become stronger as a result of taking the ARVs.

I’ve written before that I believe the best kind of AIDS education will come from Africans talking to Africans. This was a small step towards making that goal a reality.


Judi said...

So glad to hear that you were able to mark World AIDS Day this way, Jesse. This is what it's all about, I think--individual experience and perspective transmitted personally.