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March 14, 2011

The will to survive
Blogger: Rosie Stone

At the informal level I have been talking to friends and colleagues in the HIV community about the fact that there have been a few unexpected deaths recently of persons who were a part of the community. I say unexpected deliberately because at least two of these persons I have seen and spoken to up to late last year. Unexpected to me because they were young [they were half my age]: unexpected because the fact that I met them suggested to me that they were part of a group of infected persons who at least on the surface were attempting to accept their infection and was trying to find new pathways of living with HIV.

Some persons suggested that the health system and other organizations that are supposed to help infected persons with handling the psychological effects of the virus including the environmental pollutants like discrimination are not performing their roles adequately. Others even go further suggesting that there are no known entities that are helping persons to navigate what is now their ‘new normal’ living with HIV.

I was part of a conversation where someone suggested that other infected persons should help others. Some said that would put too much pressure on individuals who are themselves just trying to survive. The will to survive should come from the individual and then the individual should seek out what is needed from the environment, from organizations to help the survival instinct that is in all of us others say.

I listened and I wondered: Is the will to survive innate, are we all born with it?  Is schooling a part of the process that adds to or subtracts from this intrinsic quality? If all of us are born with the will to survive is the strength of the instinct comparable to the skills that are needed to stay alive? Or do we have to learn the skills that help us to stay alive?
I am frightened by the idea that HIV infected persons in 2011 that have known their status for a while now, can still not find any motivation in their lives that could be sufficient to provide the catalyst for living.

What do you think?

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March 11, 2011

The Caribbean Coalition on Women, Girls and AIDS [CCWA]
Blogger: Rosie Stone

I was invited to be part of the orientation meeting of advocates for the CCWA that was held at the UN House in Barbados, 24-26 February 2011.

On March 8, 2011 we will be celebrating International Women’s Day. As we celebrate the strides our women have made we have acknowledge that certain facts are also a part of our story. The incidence of AIDS among females in the Caribbean is three to six times higher than men in the 15-24 year old age group.

This is cause for concern when we factor violence against women as we are aware that violence or the threat of violence renders some of our women and girls to be more vulnerable to HIV, and makes it difficult or impossible to negotiate condom use or safer sex.

Also in Jamaica seventeen per cent of a random sample of ninth grade students reported at least one incident of sexual abuse involving physical contact. Child hood sexual abuse is very troubling as all the research points to the fact that abuse changes a child in ways that are predictable and unpredictable. Predictable behaviors that put young persons at higher risk of HIV infection like early sexual initiation, multiple sex partners, unprotected sex, and drug and alcohol abuse.
WE also have to worry about the silence and secrecy of physical abuse of our women, to the extent that it a part of the culture and has even become embedded in folk lore ‘if him didn’t love mi him wouldn’t lick mi.’ There are women who have stayed in abusive relationships for what would seem to outsiders for no good reason except perhaps, that they do not have the tools to disengage or they are too ashamed to own up to being abused.
As advocates we should do our part in our different spheres of work and influence to provide pathways for women and girls to prevent new HIV infections and if they do become infected, interventions that allow women and girls to live a productive and fulfilling lives.

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March 1, 2011

Why are gay men being blamed for the HIV epidemic?
“It’s time to stop the lies and face the truth
Blogger: Synthetics

Gay men continually face stigma and discrimination as the primary carriers of HIV and HIV is often branded a homosexual disease. Despite the evidence which shows that both men and women who have unprotected sex are at risk of getting and giving HIV. Since HIV has no face or respect for anyone who has unprotected sex, there is need for Jamaicans to be educated about the facts of HIV. Over half of persons infected with HIV in Jamaica are women who have had sexual intercourse with straight partners. Given this reality, it is time Jamaicans wake up to the truth that they need to be properly informed about what HIV is, how it is transmitted and what we need to do to reduce its spread. We need to educate ourselves and stop blaming gay men for the present state of the epidemic. Living in denial or lying will not change the situation except to expose more women and men to infection. It is time to wake up and stop the gay-bashing lies. 

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February 22, 2011

A familiar place
Blogger: Anthony's Prescription

The night has fallen and I have resonated to that place a more familiar place somewhere there is always some reservation made for me. Water poured from my eyes as my heart bled insurmountably. God knows that I have tried so hard to get rid of the ill shape that the stupid medication has caused to happen to me but there seem to be nothing I can do about it the big belly and the constant desire for food is something that I cannot avoid. Yet daily those around me seem to compound an already situation with the unpleasant comments. During the time around them I take those comments with a smile but as it get to that time of loneliness that is when I take up the offer for a vacation to that place. Despair and depression are some of the most familiar places that I had been to the path remain the same with that same edging lining that path that makes it so easy to find my destination without any great effort.

It has being 6 years and counting and each day I have to be going through dealing with not wanting to taken to that place again the more I try the more the situations presents themselves to creating the way back to that place. As I write my chest tightens and my heart aches my head turns and there are a million and things going through my head the emotions are souring and then there I am in a lonely place. There is no one to talk to as I trust no one. Am tired of being judged and looked down on I know that am not the most likeable person or not even the slightest favored person to be around , but I don’t need that I don’t need to be reminded how miserably I have failed and the consequence that I have to face and live with.

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February 14, 2011

Protect your love, use a glove
Blogger: Rosie Stone

As someone who has lived more than four decades as an adult I am very pessimistic about how much value Jamaicans place on protecting the relationships they have. The more I travel the country interacting and listening to both sexes, the more I understand the social and cultural underpinnings of our sexual behavior patterns.

 I get the feeling that most men really believe that they are entitled to have multiple partners. Some explain it through by their DNA, the fact that they are male, or some God given right, some even claim the bible as their source of this right to multiplicity of partners.

Two years ago on World AIDS Day at Devon house a young man in his thirties told me that it was ordained for him to have sex daily and so one woman could not suffice him because she had a monthly period and he needed another woman to be available at these times.
He put it crudely, and some might say his sentiment does not characterize the majority view, but I think that he represents a lot of men who would not say this publicly. Of necessity a view like this cannot be shared with his women [or can they be shared?] and so there is deception and all the attendant problems that go hand in hand with deception. I might be naïve to think that a man cannot share these sentiments with his partner because our entertainers as they mirror the culture, share this same outlook and are quite popular with the ladies.

Are they popular because the music, the beat is good, so irresistible to dance to that the women forget what the lyrics are? Or are we just accepting what is? Is it simply entertainment and so we go ahead and enjoy?

 Beenieman says “me ave nuff gyal and gyal inna budle” or
 Movado sings “me have thirteen Dawn, fourteen Sophia, fifteen Kerry work a Nova Scotia or…….”
 Vybes Kartel “different gyal everyday” ……….
Beenieman, Mavado and Vybes Kartel can’t resist all the many women that are after them. Spice, a female,  sings about having just two at the same time.
Spice says
 “Come meet mi round a di front a di yard.
Come put it pon me mek mi scream and bawl (Woooiiiiii)
 Mi man nuh deh yah a stall him a stall.
 Come put it pon mi meck me scream and bawl (Woooiiii)”

Some might say that we are not talking about love but sex, and that is debatable. What is not debatable is that persons who are engaging in multiple relationships are having children, creating families and passing on physical and psychological scars from one generation to the next and making sure that the next generation will be at the very least just as damaged. At all levels of the society this has become the norm; and this was operating long before HIV. What HIV has done is put a bright light on these behaviors, and this virus could provide a pathway to help to change some of these sexual behavior patterns. But this is where we are.

Wifey walk out,
an matey stan up,
good clothes yuh nuh wear old bruk
nuh man cyaan lef yuh
an yuh mash up.
If a girl a talk
tell her talk up (oh)
Gal a you rule you,
and a you come first.
When yuh go a dance
money stash inna yuh purse.
Visit di bar yuh nuh dead from thirst
when yuh see soma gal
yuh sey call di hearse.

This is reality……….but so sad. For all those like me, who work in the area where we are trying to get Jamaicans to’ wear a glove’ we definitely have an uphill task.

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February 7, 2011

Self Stigma and HIV
Blogger: Rosie Stone

Last year I was at a media forum at the Jamaica Observer. The conversation got around to the issue of self- stigma. The media personnel were alarmed to know that even though I had disclosed and written a book that I still harbored thoughts of self-stigma. They thought that if one is confident about whom they are enough to write about your experiences in a book that would somehow free me from self stigma.

It is true that the early manifestations of this process went away as soon as I started to disclose. The feeling ‘unclean and dirty’,’ not worthy to be with others’: all of these elements went as I began to feel like a human being again.

A particular irritant was in reaction to my environment. I voluntary stopped holding other people’s children especially babies. I knew that my HIV status would not harm these children but I cringed at the thought of a mother, a parent, being in any way concerned about his or her child after I came in contact with that child. I starved myself of this pleasure of holding and embracing children for so many years, that I no longer feel the gratification that I used to feel before HIV.

Last summer I went to my friend’s daughter wedding and I came face to face with another way to self-stigmatize. I was uneasy, uncomfortable and felt that I should not be there. I saw in my mind’s eye all the guests thinking that my presence there represented the opposite of what they were invited to celebrate. I was infected with HIV by my husband and this fact was the antithesis of what having a wedding and having happy ever after, is all about. As I am sitting at the reception I resolve never to put myself through this ordeal again- no more weddings for me.

One of the things about self stigma is that it is always a good idea if HIV infected persons recognize it in ourselves and therefore understand some of the triggers that might affect our behaviors.   It can sometimes take the joy out of living and affect our relationships.

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February 7, 2011

How do you keep going after being diagnosed HIV+?
Blogger:  Anthony's Prescription

I have often times been asked, how do you keep going after being diagnosed HIV positive?
I truly never thought of it. But I did some thinking just for this medium.

When I looked deep within the depth of the soul of my survival there I found in the midst of ever thing that has being there throughout my 30 years of living: I found that my will to want to live the most integral part of me keeping on after HIV diagnosis. A look deeper also showed that the support from family and friends were also one of the key ingredients. Faith in God was at the center of it all. But I must tell you that the ‘ME’ is the most crucial and necessary component of my survival. Family could support from now until eternity believing that there is a God without the ME wanting it would not have happen.

Think about it: I was diagnosed with clinical AIDS and had a T-cell count of 4. Had a family that didn’t know what to do, in fact my father had started to tell my elder siblings that they should prepare for my death. I was told that I had what is call clinical pneumonia. I had lost most of the weight and now weighed 90 lbs. The bathroom for the past 5 months had been my best friend constant diarrhea had me going. There was always the constant fear of travelling that I had to encounter with as at any given time I could want to use the bathroom on a trip to the doctor that was some 26 miles from where I live. The medication was now adding to what I had being trying to cope with. Lord I am so afraid to go to sleep as there is this constant fight of demons and other unusual creature. When I did go to sleep it just for a short period then awaken wet from the excessive sweet and not for the love of me could I go back to sleep. There was the fear from those that I once hugged that if they came close to me they might get infected too. There was this longing for someone to hold me close. For almost a year I didn’t hear a single person saying to me that they still loved me. All I saw was this look of despair in their eyes and that constant reminder that I had let them down. It was never uttered but the look the secret crying that I often found out about by chance the cross conversation among those that say that they are my brothers and friends. The fear of being neglected and or rejected, the lost of friends.

Through it all there was always that will to survive for me and my family six years now and am looking back and now realizing that that road that I went on in 2005 wasn’t an all easy one but as I took that journey one day at a time 6 years have pasted and it is now that out of been asked this question over and over that I real stop to take a look at what have keep me after HIV. The thing that I have being through and the step that I have taken to overcome wasn’t any simple one but I had gone through them with such grace that if I hadn’t stop to deliberately look I would have recognized how much effort has being put in my been here today.

Until next time may the grace of God ever keep you.

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February 7, 2011

HIV and the world of work
Blogger: Poo

Calling to all employers & potenial employers!!!

Have you ever wondered if every HIV positive person were denied the right to be permitted into the work force because they were considered as been a threat to other employees?
Have you every stop to think that they have feelings and emotions are just like everyone elses?
Have you ever stop to think that they have a family to support like everyone else?

Having said that, have you ever wondered what a strain it would put on the our economy if all these HIV positive persons were to some how get sick , because they were anble to get a job inorder to supply themselves with the nutrition they need to take ther medication?

Well let me enlighten you. Some would get sick, some would develop resistance to their treatment; and guess what, you the employers and other tax payer would have to dig deeper into your pocket when they need to import new drugs because the ones they were taking cannot work anymore.

Employer! think again, you cannot get HIV from touching or form any other social engagement ,therefore you do not need to be afraid of them. If anything they should be the ones afraid of you ;because if you have a cold and cough on them they will be the one getting sick and not you.

So before you deny on HIV positive person from a job think on these things. Remember HIV is no respecter of person, it could be you.

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January 31, 2011

Hard Times
Blogger: Irey Vybes

Hi reader I hope you all had a great Christmas and wonderful new year, I which I could have said the same but unfortunately I honestly cannot sat that as the festive seasons for me was one that see me very sick over the long holiday in to the new year.

Just feeling much stronger and overcoming the cold and flu symptoms, not to leave out the annoying and troubling hiccup, this I had every day for over five weeks which was quite scary for me I wonder if this was the end.

Hot off the heels of the scary sickness here come the scare of ARV availability in the public and government pharmacies, do understand the fright you are due for your medication and only to told that none is available and idea when it will be available the clients. I know now that the shortage was due to severe weather condition from where the ARV supply and that is for one of the medication, I think the ministry of health should and must put in place proper and effective communication to all other related agencies so that the these agencies, pharmacies, counseling site and doctors can inform the patients and if there changes or adjustment to be made it is done in a timely fashion.

Well in all of this up and down I give God thanks for the friends and families who call to check in on me from time and most of all to me for believing in my self during the worst time, alone at home trying to ensure that I eat and get a lot fluid in to maintain some kind of a body structure.

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January 31, 2011

The Individual versus The Group
Blogger: Rosie Stone

Blogger Pacheesha commented last week on a focus group discussion with HIV infected mothers. The group came out very strongly on behalf of themselves as women at the same time exposing areas in the health care system that needs strengthening.

I have always been fascinated by the dynamics and resolve of the group made up of many personalities and experiences as a collective whole. By definition the group should be representative of an array of views. In my experience, and I might be mistaken, there seems to be a gap between the resolve at the group level and what individuals portray in their personal lives.

As women we need to advocate for ourselves at the individual level, with our partners as equals. The first item on the agenda as far as gender equality is concerned is the silence over violence from our men. It is never okay to accept any kind of violence from the men we love, those who we share our beds with or from the fathers of our children.
The group can be a powerful tool, but we have to begin to value and love ourselves first as individuals to be truly equal.

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NHRC 2012 Call for Abstracts
Vaccination – an Act of Love
The Caribbean Can Wipe Out Paediatric HIV
sort icon
view 2011-Looking forward - Part 2 (Rosie Stone)
view A familiar place (Anthony's Prescription)
view Access and Availability to ARV (Irey Vybz)
view Adherence to medication (Anthony’s prescription)
view Adherence to medication continues (Anthony's Prescription)
view Ah! the Journey continues ( The Optimistic One)
view Are there lessons to be learnt from Diane’s death? (Rosie Stone)
view Dealing With Problems (Winnie Pooh)
view Do Families and Friend really care? (IREY VYBES)
view Do families and friends really care? (Irey Vibes)
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