Creating a brighter tomorrow for the HIV/AIDS afflicted
Stella Ramsaroop Column
November 30, 2006
Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life. Eh, what a tired, old cliché. Tomorrow is also World AIDS Day, a date dedicated to raising awareness for HIV and AIDS. Coincidentally, it is because humans have been able to overcome their fear of this horrible virus and devote a day to understanding it, that tomorrow will help bring more tomorrows for those who suffer from HIV and AIDS.
I used to be so good about making a "to-do" list and getting it done. In fact, in my younger years I would not rest until my list was done. However, as time goes by, I have learned to enjoy life a little more. I seem to be assuming my husband's laid back attitude toward life and very often my "to do" list gets pushed off until tomorrow.
Tomorrow is a great point in time. Yesterday is tainted with history, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but tomorrow always holds hope. Today is often too hectic and demanding to truly be appreciated.
Yesterday is full of emotional baggage that must be sorted and today requires our full participation, whether we like it or not. But tomorrow is where we find hope and it is a great place to file those unfinished "to do" tasks.
We take it for granted that tomorrow will come and the optimists of life, including myself, expect tomorrow to be great – or at least good. However, even if tomorrow is bad, we still take it for granted that it will eventually come and that alone instills hope.
What would it feel like if we found out in the next ten seconds that tomorrow was never coming?
What if the arrival of tomorrow was still to be determined? I imagine this is how those who suffer from HIV and AIDS feel when they consider their tomorrows. I spend so much time dreaming about my tomorrows and making plans about the future that I hardly consider the possibility that tomorrow will choose to deny me the blessing of its arrival.
Instead, what if tomorrow promised suffering? What if tomorrow promised death? According to the latest UN statistics, an estimated 39.5 million people are living with HIV, with 4.3 million new infections in 2006 worldwide. Dr. Peter Schmitz, Chief Medical Officer of Malteser International, said, "At the moment, only 20 percent of six million AIDS patients worldwide are treated with the so called anti-retroviral therapy."
That means 80 percent of AIDS patients worldwide continue to suffer greatly. Their tomorrows are just as tainted as their yesterdays and their todays. According to a recent Reuter's article on this subject, the HIV virus infects about ten percent of the adult population in the slums of Kenya 's capital.
According to Medical News today, "Africa Action has expressed grave concern at the inadequacy of the international response to this growing global crisis, which continues to have a disproportionate impact in Africa . The organisation emphasised that Africa experienced 75 percent of the global death toll from HIV/AIDS this year, and that increasing infection rates and shrinking life expectancies across the continent reveal a worsening crisis, which the international community is failing to stem."
For Guyana , a recent report by UNAIDS to study HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean showed "AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 44 in the Caribbean , accounting for 27,000 deaths in 2005." In fact, the Barbados Advocate reported, "The Caribbean remains the region most affected by HIV/AIDS after Africa ."
Even more startling, this country received a very sobering account regarding HIV and AIDS. Kaiser Daily said, "According to the report, the Bahamas , Barbados , the Dominican Republic and Haiti showed they had 'dented the progress of HIV'; however, Guyana has a 'serious epidemic underway'."
We have to make every possible effort today to create a brighter tomorrow for those with HIV/AIDS. We cannot put this crisis on the back burner and hope it will go away by tomorrow. It will not. By tomorrow, it will have spread even more.
Tomorrow is World AIDS Day.