Albinos in Tanzania are Being Raped for AIDS Cure

In Tanzania, albinos, individuals with pigment deficiency, are being murdered for black magic purposes, and albinos girls are being raped because individuals believe they are a cure for AIDS. Many accounts are not recorded because individuals have not come forward to authorities regarding the incidents. Thus, the exact number of attacks on albinos is difficult to know. However, at least 63 albinos have been raped or murdered. The body parts of those murdered are used in black magic potions and spells to improve others’ love lives, business, or well being.

I believe education could have prevented the rape and murder of hundreds of albinos in Tanzania.  Misinformation from community members has caused individuals in desperation to murder and rape innocent individuals born with a different skin color.

I often take for granted my educational opportunities. Even if many of us did not attend college, we have access to the Internet that supplies information on an assortment of topics. Tanzanians do not have access to education or information in the same fashion as Americans do. These incidents are not completely the fault of the individuals raping and murdering, but a larger societal problem for Tanzania.  [Read more...]

What I think about the Pope’s condom comments

As you probably know by now, the word is that a new book about Pope Benedict coming out next week will include comments he made acknowledging the efficacy of condoms in preventing the spread of HIV. The media is having a hay day with the story, and the world is amazed that the leader of the Catholic Church has the ability to tell the truth to his millions of followers.

I guess I am a bit confused about all the excitement; in fact the statements raise more questions for me than they answer. Here are just a few of the thoughts from me, a non-Catholic woman who cares about the health of her community:

First of all, did I hear correctly or do the Pope’s comments state that condoms are acceptable if used by male prostitutes? Am I missing something here, or are there also quite a few woman in this world who are also sex workers?

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Why is AIDS the #1 Killer of Women Worldwide?

HIV/AIDS is typically thought of as a gay man’s disease, despite the fact that the World Health Organization released statistics in November 2009 that show HIV/AIDS is the #1 killer of women ages 15-44 worldwide. Since March 10th is the National Day of HIV/AIDS Awareness for Women and Girls, I thought that it was important to focus on some of the reasons why women and girls are particularly vulnerable to contracting HIV.

According to a recent article in Poz Magazine:

The particulars of women’s heightened risk include the specifics of female biology; high rates of sexual abuse and gender-based violence; battles for self-esteem and respect; women’s need to be accepted by sexual partners; a chronic lack of resources and income; and homophobia, which can drive lesbians to unsafe and unhealthy practices.

Another part of the challenge is that the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS prevents women from getting tested or seeking support services for themselves. One woman interviewed in another Poz article about HIV and women pointed out that if you have breast cancer or heart disease, there are races and other public events for people to show their support. But with HIV, people would rather look the other way. [Read more...]

US Travel Ban on HIV+ Individuals to End

Today marks the end of an era – and I have to say that I’m happy to see it go. The US travel ban for HIV+ persons is officially over. According to CNN:

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed HIV infection from the list of diseases that prevent non-U.S. citizens from entering the country . . .

Advocates for HIV-positive people said the new policy was long overdue, calling it “a significant step forward for the United States.”

“The end of the HIV travel and immigration ban is the beginning of a new life for countless families and thousands who had been separated because of this policy,” said Steve Ralls, spokesman for Immigration Equality, a national rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive individuals. “This is a new beginning for them.”

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Man Arrested for Not Disclosing HIV Status

Poz Magazine is reporting that an Iowa man was recently arrested for having unprotected sex and failing to disclose his HIV status.

Court records do not say whether his partner contracted HIV, but in Iowa a person can be charged for criminal HIV transmission—a Class B —whether or not transmission actually takes place . . . Bogardus is being held on a cash-only $50,000 bond and he faces up to 25 years in prison.

This is certainly not the first case of someone being arrested for failure to disclose their HIV status. From a purely fictional standpoint, the TV show “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” has featured several storylines involving HIV+ individuals being charged with a crime for failure to disclose their HIV status. One episode went so far as to portray the HIV+ character as a “domestic terrorist” who was using HIV as a “weapon of mass destruction.” It’s easy to dismiss these stories as hyperbole run amuck, but a poll regarding the American public’s attitudes towards HIV reveals that these television stories don’t stray too far from reality. [Read more...]