Monday, August 14, 2006
WHY MOSTLY US?
The XVI International Conference on HIV/AIDS 2006 in Toronto, Canada has started. Over 24,000 delegates across the globe are in Toronto to plan, evaluate and discuss policies, politics, freak economics etc. The first reflection that comes into my mind is when will this conference go back to Africa where it is believed to be a fact that almost half of the people infected with the virus live? Is someone telling me that Africa has no capacity, in terms of resources, to host a conference like this one? Mmmh!
When HIV/AIDS comes into spotlight, Africa walks just too close to every word of it. HIV/AIDS is almost, by big mistake, not a global problem but an African problem. HIV/AIDS has a black face, so say many activists. I agree with them. It then comes as a no surprise when Canadian PM, Steve Harper chooses to ignore the importance of joining hands with millions of people across the globe plus thousands of international delegates and prove to the world about his government’s commitment to fight the war that to me it worth every minute, every dollar, every political move and above all, it worth every inch of humanity! While the organizers have called his non-show up a political blander that will cost “Steve” more than he can imagine, I am disappointed and angered by his decision.
From the look at the calendar of activities that I have on my lap, I can easily tell that this is not a political picnic like G8. There are people who are committed into raising awareness to above the roof, making sure that right policies are discussed and set, making a huge step towards availability of a vaccine if not a better treatment across the globe. Easy access to the drugs, for the people already infected by the virus remains a crucial part of “why they meet”.
As we know, HIV/AIDS is now 25 years old, same age with Grammy –winning artist Alicia Keys who showed up at the Rogers Centre this Sunday alongside other remarkable figures like Bill and Melinda Gates, Hollywood actor Richard Gere and many more. Inside last 25 years questions have been pondered, scientific answers have been suggested, millions of dollars have gone into research (more is still needed) but yet a needed destination (cure) has not been reached. While respecting and eagerly waiting for a scientific breakthrough, I want to keep asking myself few questions. Why is HIV/AIDS keeps much of its interests in Africa, among African/black people than other human race? Is poverty the only reason; is it true that polygamy among African Muslim cultures in Africa the very reason? Are the researches telling us the truth or exaggeration of its own kind, as it has always been when Africa is put into context? Is the virus that infects millions of people in Africa different from the one in developed countries? Is it not mainly spread via unprotected sex? Is it spread differently in Africa then? Is sex not all that here in North America for example? What is wrong then?
The questions WHY seems to have eluded the minds of many fellow Africans. We have agreed, with no further questioning, the reasons given by almost 25 years old research findings. Have these facts remained the same even after so many years? If it’s our habitual problem, what are we doing to end it? If it is the psychological drama of being baptized “victims” from the beginning, what are we doing about it? Could it be that other lives reality like low self-esteem, remaining chains of psychological slavery and colonialism, unending war on racism etc be our killer reason than just unprotected sex? What would we find underneath if for once, we started thinking in reverse from what we are used to? What if its not poverty, its not cultural practices, it has nothing to do with polygamy? There are of course millions of questions with hard to find answers.
Therefore when the theme of this year’s conference is “Time To Deliver” I suggest its time to re-start again to find some new answers on the question WHY MOSTLY US AND NOT OTHER RACES?