If We Close Our Eyes, It Doesn’t Exist
I was watching T.V last night, nothing to do and this Indian movie ‘Phir Milenge’ was on with Salman Khan, Shilpa Shetty and Abhishek Bachan, it’s a copy of Hollywood’s Philadelphia with Tom Hanks, and nevertheless, I watched it. A story of a woman who became HIV positive after a one night encounter with a boy she likes and how her condition or illness is getting her wrongfully terminated from her job.
And with this, a thought came to me that HIV/AIDS is a global issue and if something is happening in one part of the world, it must be happening here too, right? And if it is, why isn’t there any dialogue regarding it? So I grabbed my laptop and did some research, one has to educate oneself before talking about something. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. If you wish to know in detail about the condition, refer the internet.
With the research I found that by 2013, there were 94,000 cases of HIV in Pakistan and the deaths by the virus were around 2,800. 94,000 is a lot and it’s something that can increase, we can hope it won’t but who knows and what’s surprising is that we see no information in our surrounding about it. No information or awareness or treatment plan. Nothing for HIV/AIDS and STDs but that’s a different topic. I searched and there were such gigantic campaigns regarding HIV in India. I speak about India because the people are the same, so are the mindsets to some level and just because we are so close geographically. But such campaigns and such awareness! They are not shying away from the problem, they have acknowledged it, and they are trying to solve it by awareness and by not discriminating ones who have contacted the virus. I saw a video of an AIDS awareness program where Bipasha Basu was on stage and dancing with women who were HIV positive, she was there to talk about being tested and to advice not to discriminate or taunt the ones who are in contact with the virus. Several campaigns run throughout the year with celebrities and other notable faces regarding this issue. Also, they do intend to, well, not treat it but slow down the spreading and effects.
Which brings me to the point that how do you get HIV/AIDS? The generalized idea is that you get it by sex workers. But how do they get it? Is it only by sex?
Well, no! Anyone can get and there are many ways. For starters; multiple sex partners and practicing unsafe sex. Then through needle sharing – now this includes via tattoos, injection syringes, syringes for drug use, same blades used by two or more people (most commonly at barber shops), body piercing and the lastly, by mother to child in pregnancy, delivery or breast feeding.
The biggest taboo about this taboo is that no one talks about it. If we close our eyes and eat a tub of butter, would the calories not count? If we close our eyes, it doesn’t exist? Moderately high drug use and lack of acceptance that non-marital sex is common in the society have allowed the AIDS epidemic to take hold in Pakistan, mainly among injection drug users, male/female sex workers and repatriated migrant workers. It will be tough to accept the fact, but yes, it is happening!
And because it is happening and because we have figures, there is a need to do something. Talk about it! Tell people how its spread, how to practice safe sex, how to ask the barber to change the blade. First of all, don’t do drugs! And if you do decide to do it, change the syringe, do not share syringes. Ask the doctors for a new syringe if you get a vaccine, get a blood test before donating blood. These things matter and can save you from the virus. I think there need to be active campaigns for this. Everyone watches T.V, use that medium, use NGOs to raise awareness among the lower class. Hold seminars. Have the doctors educated and have them talk about it to their patients. We also need an anonymity program or agreement if someone thinks they have the virus and wish to be tested and are worried about reactions.
The upper class somehow deals with their problem, it’s the common man that suffers. It’s going to be a tough task but again, we need to prevent what we can. Our pharmaceutical research and development is lacking behind, it is time to get active. As a marketing student, I can only do research and propose ideas about this, we do need more voices. 1 is greater than 2.