My HIV Valentine

Valentines Day
Valentine’s Day, as legend has it, originated when St Valentine took it upon himself to secretly help couples tie the knot when marriage was illegal under Roman law. The Romans may have killed St Valentine when they found out, but his dedication to upholding the right to love and be loved in spite of his own personal safety is remembered and celebrated today. HIV/AIDS is a highly stigmatized and feared disease because it strikes in many the fear of death. Modern medicine has created its own St Valentine through anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and given us all the chance to live and love safely in the face of potential death.


Engage the Epidemic

If you were born any time after the 90’s you have grown up hearing this, year in, year out. End AIDS, wear a condom, abstain. Either not enough of us are following this, or simply this is only part of the solution and we need to find the rest of it. What we really need this year is Engagement. We need to pick up this disease, turn it over, and just as a HIV scientist works with the virus to see how it infiltrates immune cells, we need to work out how it infiltrates our lives. We need to Engage this Epidemic.


Health Check for Human Rights

By Linda-Gail Bekker & Brian Kanyemba

Good health is fundamental for a good life. It is the trampoline spring that determines how high we bounce and what stars we reach. When a disease spans out of control and threatens the ability of large segments of a population to obtain and maintain good health, it becomes a public health issue.

Women* have many gender-unique experiences. Some of these are biologically determined: falling pregnant, giving birth; others are cultural: the relief of taking off a bra and the pain of high heeled shoes. Then there are situations that arise from gender inequality and patriarchal norms. This includes the experience of violence, which 1 in 3 women will experience at least once in their lives.

November 25 is the International Day for the Eradication of Violence against Women. This day recognizes the impact of gender-based violence (GBV), which goes beyond the mere physical damage. Mental health, economic self-sufficiency and resilience to disease are all affected. A strong, mutually-reinforcing association has been found between violence against women and elevated HIV risk (1).