maybe i've said this before, but i'd like to say it again.
probably because i've been reading dondon and abb talking about the resignation of the bush administration's AIDS czar, deputy secretary of state randall l tobias after it was discovered that he had been using a "service" to have women come and give him "massages".
you might notice that i never capitalize anything in my posts, except that is the "g" in God and all the letters in AIDS.
while i am no longer active in the work i once did around AIDS' issues i can still tell you more than you'd probably like to know on the subject especially when in comes to AIDS in africa.
things are better and worse there. better because more information, more programs, more money, and just more help is reaching people who desperately need it... worse because that help seems only available to a certain group of people. help in the fight against AIDS in africa needs to be for everyone regardless of what they do AND (yep, i used capitals again) must include the "c" word: CONDOMS (i'm on a roll now).
except that the bush administration doesn't like condoms despite the fact that it is our leading weapon (they do like those) against the spread of AIDS.
they also don't seem to like the idea of helping women who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle which propels them into the word of making money with their bodies since policy dictates that american governmental money can only go to those programs which only teach abstinence and do not give out condoms.
now i don't support prostitution on any level, but i do know that there isn't anything i wouldn't do if forced with little choice on how to feed my children... so i want to tell you a story. it's fiction only in the regard that i've made up this particular version, but it is a non-fiction story because it happens all the time.
abeni hasn't seen her husband in many months. chimelu had to travel to find work to provide for their family, but now he is returning home. she is excited to have him home and meet their second child who was born while he was away. but when chimelu arrives abeni realizes that he is terribly sick. she takes him into their small home and wonders how long it will take before others in her village begin to talk and say that he has AIDS.
in the weeks that follow abeni tends her husband as best as she can. she doesn't have medicine for him or gloves to wear when she touches him. she worries about letting her children get near their own father. almost no one in their village will come near her or her children. none come to see chimelu except the pastor. his eyes are glazed over when he visits; he has done so many funerals that his visits seem rote.
when chimelu finally dies everyone from his family arrives for the funeral. they weep and cry then hurry into abeni's home. as his relatives, tradition says that they are entitled to an inheritance. by the end of the day they claim everything that once was owned by chimelu; furniture, sheets, blankets, cookware all depart with them.
abeni is left with an empty home and small children to care for. eventually she makes a difficult choice, if you can call it a choice. she goes out to the place where she knows men like chimelu work. away from their wives and families they are lonely and willing to pay for the only thing left she has to give.
at first she considered herself lucky because she was able to obtain some condoms and a stern warning from the relief workers who had given them to her that she must use them if she didn't want to get sick herself. but as the day wore on she discovered that none of the men would pay her for sex if she asked them to use one. disheartened she returnes home to her hungry children.
the next day she tries again, this time she finds a man willing, but he only gives her enough money to buy food for one meal for her children. by the end of the week, she gives up on the condoms and makes enough in one day to feed her children for the rest of the next week.
when the money runs out she works another day and feeds her children for another week. but as time passes so does the virus she is unaware of in her body. more chimelus go home to their abenis. some of these infect their wives through sex some when their wives care for them as they die. some wives escape their husband's disease only to find themselves needing to feed their children like abeni did and the cycle continues.
this is just one story, but it is the one that haunts me the most. in the eighties our government kept quiet and did nothing to prevent the spread of AIDS because it was a "gay disease." today our government refuses to do what is really necessary to stop the spread of AIDS in africa because it is a "sex-worker disease."
except that it is a disease, a terrible, horrible disease that attacks anyone it can get into. and it is on the rise in america too. young people who didn't live through the eighties epidemic believe if they get it they can just take drugs to keep themselves alive and healthy. abstinence programs don't work here and they don't work in africa. and while condoms are not the cure they are the best line of defense.
but perhaps the most important lesson to realize is that hypocracy will pull us further and further down into a cycle none of us can survive.
God's peace y'all