Bloggers around the world marked World Aids Day on December 1 by speaking openly and strongly about HIV and AIDS. Each post is a tribute to the fight against the epidemic, which only grows stronger through silence and misinformation.
Malawi: Tell your story
In Malawi, Global Voices author and journalist Victor Kaonga shares a memory from the first interview he ever conducted with an openly HIV positive woman:
I had traveled from Malawi's capital Lilongwe for over 350 km to meet this lady in a rural area in Zomba. Connecting to her village, I had to cycle about 20 km with my recorder and notebook.
The lady had a story which I thought was worth pursuing and capturing for broadcast. What attracted me to her was the fact she did not hide she was HIV positive and to declare so in 1999 in Malawi was almost a taboo. Yet she defied all odds of the time even when ARVs were no there. Eight years down the road, it is still difficult to do away with the golden silence over AIDS in Malawi.
Bangladesh: Breaking taboos
In Bangladesh, a sociologist and AIDS activist, Kathryn B. Ward, has created a series of safe-sex posters featuring “Mr. Bunny”, a rear-view mirror toy holding condoms. On this poster, he says in Bangla: “I have condoms and money. Let's make love. Smart rabbits always wear-use condoms.”
Worldwide: Changing minds
Internews has created an interactive map of Local Voices journalism on public health and HIV/Aids around the world. It features the stories of journalists who have undergone training to report on the crisis openly, and audio and text from Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe.
Sylvia Chebet produced this piece for Citizen TV in Kenya on blood safety:
Caribbean: Reclaiming lost hope
In Jamaica, Yardflex talks about HIV postive women who have reclaimed their sexuality:
“You can have your sexuality…you don't have to lose it because you have HIV…” People tend to think that contracting HIV can spell the end of their sex lives, but HIV-positive Africans of all ages are now being urged to reclaim their sexuality and live healthy, normal lives. “I got this [HIV] through sex, so [I thought] my sexuality was gone and I felt I needed to stop dressing attractively and wait to die,” Florence Anam, 28, an information officer at the Kenya Network of Women with AIDS, told IRIN/PlusNews.
Brazil: Treatment and prejudice
In spite of devastatingly high HIV-infection rates, Brazil has managed to turn their tragedy into a story of survival. Since 1996, the Brazilian government has guaranteed access to antiretroviral drugs to anyone in need. Blogger, Olhares da Stelinha (pt), says treatment alone is not enough:
Brazil has found an exemplary method of treating Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome that is considered a world reference by the WHO (World Health Organization) . Now we, Brazilians, need to find a way to put an end to prejudice against the disease and its bearers and be more supportive of what we are by nature. Ending the prejudice and increasing prevention must become daily habits in our lives.