Never to Come

In the Mukherjee article “Structural Violence, Poverty and the AIDS Pandemic,” she talks about how AIDS is changing the world for the worse. This may seem extremely obvious, but some of the points that she brought up I never thought of in that particular way.

There are many things that she speaks of that I have heard in different ways. Those include prevention strategies that include risk avoidance by abstaining from sex and drug use as well as harm reduction like needle exchanges. My roommate volunteers at a nonprofit in Atlanta that exchanges dirty needles for clean ones as well as provide condoms and showers. These types of tactics are truly helping in communities where some people want to be clean off drugs, but just do not have the strength yet. However, they still want to ensure some accountability for their own health and well being.

A new term that seems to do a great job of marking a key component of the causes and results of the AIDS pandemic is structural violence. She defines this in two different ways. The first, found on page 379, says “the systemic exclusion of a group from the resources needed to develop their full human potential.” She goes on to define it as “physical and psychological harm that results from exploitive and unjust social, political and economic systems” on page 380. When we think about how the world economic system is overall set up, it is easy to agree with Mukherjee. Men are in the position to receive more jobs than women, while women are not paid for all the work that they do to care for their children ad family members as well as up keeping the household. Women are also sold for the use of their bodies and viciously raped in every part of the world. Men have to travel for work, many of them finding several sexual partners along the way. Of course all of these are not the case for everyone, but they do give examples of how the structure of society and the roles that we allow some to play give in to the ongoing pandemic of HIV.

The most interesting aspect of this article to me was the effect of AIDS on the household. When the head of the household dies from AIDS in African countries, the monthly income of the household drastically drops. These families who are at many times solely reliant on one income have lost a family member at the same time of losing their daily living. The families are forced into a quick impoverished situation that they find themselves hard to get out of. I always thought of the worst side of AIDS being the death of the infected individuals, but the fate of those that relied on these individuals are an enormous issue as well.

Money seems to be the biggest issue in this pandemic, in my opinion. If we were to garner enough money for every infected person to take generic antiretroviral therapy, the only thing left would be the focus on prevention. I believe that because the United States was silent for so long (focusing not the Bush and Clinton administration most of all), the disease has gotten to an almost incontrollable point. If it were simple enough to say yes to generic drugs for all and millions of prevention programs across the world, this agonizing disease could have been gone with polio and smallpox.

Of course we will always have those that take advantage of people’s bodies and those  that are irresponsible with contraception and dirty needles, but our position to fight those would so much more focused. It’s time to leave the legislation behind and solely focus on the well being of this world’s people. At this point, I’m sure I will never see the day where that is the ultimate focus.

9 thoughts on “Never to Come

  1. In America, we have a very different kind of poverty from Africa. Do you think that the reliance of someone who has died of AIDS effects people in America the same way it does in Africa?

  2. Distributing antiretroviral therapy to everyone in the world who has AIDS seems like an enormously expensive task. The governments here focus on prevention and awareness but it is a much cheaper and likely somewhat effective method. Eradication of AIDS seems like a extremely tall job but i think that until there is a effective, cost-efficient vaccine, education, prevention and treatments to those who can afford it is the best way to continue the struggle to combat AIDS.

    • Kien Bean: I agree that we need to have a multi modal approach or sort of attack it at all ends to really eradicate the pandemic, or at least greatly reduce it.

  3. I definitely agree that when it comes to AIDS, the worst part can be the fate of the ones reliant on the infected, but I feel like a lot of people aren’t aware of this. I went ahead and asked my roommates what they thought the worst part of AIDS was, they answered death of course. Also, is the nonprofit you mentioned in the second paragraph the Jerusalem House?

  4. Merstar, I believe that it is not the same exactly, because a large amount of America’s population is not in the same economic situation. However, there are those who passed away from the disease that were single parents, their children relying only on them. Because of this, the children move from family member to family member, or get lost in the system. Africa does have a different situation, but the death does affect people all over the world in a basic common way in my opinion.

    • Simoneh and Merstar: I think we see a lot of non traditional families as a result of the AIDS epidemic here in the U.S. Lots of grandparents raising babies because a whole generation has been impacted and passed away.

  5. Kienbean, the article says that it takes $150 per year to supply the ART drugs to one person per year. That is only $12.50 a month. If there were a fund solely for this, the rate of death for the epidemic would start to drastically slow down. There actually are some new preventative methods being tested and coming out with good results. In this article “Reporting Progress And The Challenges Ahead In HIV And AIDS Prevention”, it speaks of a microbicide that if administered through rectal gel, there is reduced infectibility of HIV 6-10 times that of an oral pill. I believe we are making great progress, but until there is a vaccine, there are steps that we can take to reduce the growing HIV-infected population.

  6. Upluto, agreed! One big thing that many say when a loved one passes of disease is “They aren’t suffering anymore.” Now the suffering lies on those the individual left behind. The family and friends that have to pay for the hospital and funeral costs, the people that have to make a living without someone who could have been a large attribute to their daily cost of living. The nonprofit my roommate volunteers at is the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition.

  7. Simoneh: GREAT JOB getting such a robust discussion going. This is what I had hoped for for every blog post. I know, high expectations. 🙂 I really like how you address the “collateral damage” of HIV/AIDS. Much like LB talked about the importance of developing an “ethic of caring” or community of caring to work against sexual violence, I would argue we need to do the same for HIV/AIDS prevention. Great job.

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