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Portuguese-speaking bloggers on World Aids Day '09

The coverage of the World Aids Day 2009 by Global Voices brought many stories of people struggling with HIV/Aids. Portuguese speaking countries in different parts of the world, from Brazil to Lusophone Africa, share the language and the suffering from the human immunodeficiency virus. Here is a round-up of reflections of the World Aids Day covering voices from Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Portugal.

At only 24, an anonymous Brazilian blogger has only recently discovered he has contracted HIV. He shares in Vida PositHIVa [pt] blog his feelings about the difficulties of living with the virus, how he is afraid of people's reaction and the anxiety of having hurt other people. On this World Aids Day, he decides to resume blogging and reflects:

O que eu estou fazendo da minha vida? O que eu estou fazendo com a vida das pessoas com quem eu me relaciono? Eu tenho medo, mas sei que não tenho o direito de arriscar a vida de outra pessoa sendo irresponsavel ao ponto de transar sem camisinha e até isso eu fiz, pior ainda que com uma pessoa que eu amo.

Sou covarde, não tenho coragem de dizer a ele que ele pode está infectado, não tenho coragem de contar a minha mãe, e apesar de tentar esquecer sei que é impossivel e hoje o meu mundo ficou muito maior e mais escuro, eu sinceramente não tenho maturidade pra lidar com isso.

Muito triste…

What am I doing with my life? What am I doing with the lives of people I have relationships with? I'm scared, but I know I don't have the right to risk the life of another person by being irresponsible to the point of having sex without condom and I have even done this; even worse: I have done this with someone I love.
I am a coward, I don't have the heart to tell him that he may be infected, I don't have the courage to tell my mother, and although I try to forget about it, I know it is impossible and now my world is much larger and darker, I honestly don't have the maturity to deal with this.
I am very sad…

Also from Brazil, Felipe Esotico confides in Reação Ambiental [pt] blog his personal account of having a HIV-infected family member, urging readers not to have the same type of prejudice against soropositive people that he once had. He says:

Antes, gostaria de compartilhar com vocês minha experiência com o HIV, não, não tenho o vírus, mas quando eu era muito pequeno meu primo se contaminou. Uma vez fui visita-lo quando já estava em fase terminal e fiquei muito assustado com sua aparência.  Ele me ofereceu uma bolacha recheada que eu adorava, mas recusei, com medo de ficar doente também.

Estávamos no final dos anos oitenta, quando a AIDS ainda não era muito conhecida e eu não fazia idéia de como essa doença era transmitida. Junto com esta falta de conhecimento da população, uma epidemia mundial de HIV estourou.

Minha primeira aula na escola sobre o tema ocorreu pouco menos de um ano depois, meu primo já havia falecido e eu passei a entender como era difícil para ele conviver com a doença e com o preconceito que era gerado pelo vírus.

First of all, I would like to share with you my experience with HIV; I do not have the virus, but my cousin was infected when I was very young. I went to visit him once when he was terminally ill and I was very frightened by his physical appearance. He offered me a kind of biscuit that I loved, but I refused it, afraid of getting ill too.

This was in the late eighties, when AIDS was still fairly unknown and I had no idea how this disease was transmitted. Alongside the population's lack of knowledge, a worldwide HIV epidemic broke out.

My first lesson on this topic at school took place less than a year later; my cousin had already died and I came to understand how difficult it must have been for him to live with the disease and the prejudice against the virus.

Rui Palmela talks about the situation in his country, Portugal, in the Alvorecer [pt] blog:

Quase 30 anos depois da descoberta do vírus da Sida, ainda não foi encontrada a cura para a doença, nem mesmo uma vacina eficaz, e Portugal é o país da Europa Ocidental que apresenta a maior taxa de incidência de infecções pelo HIV que atinge também agora muitos casais idosos devido a comportamentos de risco nas relações extra-conjugais que muitos têm devido talvez às novas filosofias “anti-tabu” do sexo […].

Almost 30 years since the HIV virus was first recognized, there is still no cure for the disease, not even an effective vaccine, and Portugal is the Western European country with the highest recorded incidence of HIV infection, now affecting also many elderly couples because of risky behaviour of having extramarital affairs, perhaps due to new “anti-taboo” philosophies toward sex […].

On the other hand, there are people who deny the harm caused by HIV, especially when it comes to the  treatment. The blogger Ovidia [pt], from Cape Verde, triggered a discussion in the comment box with the question “AIDS, a lie that we have been sold?” [pt]. He based his argument on quotes of scientists, including molecular and cell biology professor Peter Duesberg and the discoverer of the HIV virus, Luc Montagnie. A reader responded with the following question:

Qualquer apelo a negar este flagelo, porque o é, é uma completa irresponsabilidade. Ou os preservativos também são uma inventona da Big Pharma para pagares cada vez que tens sexo? :)

Any attempt to deny this scourge, because this is what it is, is an act of gross irresponsibility. Or do you think that condoms are also an invention of the Big Pharma for you to pay every time you have sex?

Alexandre Pascoal in Reporter X [pt] highlights a mobile video contest just launched by the Portuguese government [pt] for videos about fighting HIV/AIDS. He said:

Uma iniciativa inovadora, apontada à sensibilização das gerações mais novas e às novas formas de socialização por via das redes sociais.

An innovative initiative, aimed at raising  younger generations awareness through the use of new ways of socializing via social networks.

Young Mozambican filmmaker Alcides Soares

Young filmmaker Alcides Soares, sixteen-year-old AIDS orphan, one of half a million living in Mozambique today.

Talking about videos, the blog Ma-Schamba [pt] invites readers to watch the beautiful award-winning movie Home is Where You Find It. The movie tells the story of Alcides Soares, a 16-year-old Mozambican teenager searching to find a family after both his parents died of Aids. The film's debut was on November 21 in Norris Theatre, Los Angeles during the My Hero Film Festival. On the movie, the blogger commented:

As leituras deste filme são múltiplas e subtis, mas hoje não cabem aqui… Porque hoje é o dia 1 de Dezembro, Dia Internacional de Luta Contra a Sida.

The readings of this film are many and subtle, but they do not fit here today… because today is the 1st of December, World Aids Day.

Lueji Dharma from Angola Vitoriosa [pt] blog says that nobody is guilty of spreading HIV and urges for pharmaceutical companies to develop a cure for the disease. Asking people not to lose hope, she laments that love is at risk because of Aids:

É urgente resolver o problema da Sida. É uma doença terrível no sentido em que asfixia as pessoas num sentimento estigmatizante. Uma doença injusta que ataca realmente o que o ser humano tem de melhor: O AMOR. Esta doença é contra o Amor, na medida em que leva a que na intimidade exista desconfiança.

[…]

Por outro lado, referir que ninguém se deve sentir apto para discriminar alguém; e que a Sida é só mais uma doença, igual a todas as outras, que com o tratamento adequado poderá ter uma boa esperança de vida.

Assim, acima de tudo, protejam-se e não percam a esperança, a vacina pode estar mesmo aí a chegar.

It is urgent to solve the problem of AIDS. It is a terrible disease in the sense that people are faced with a choking stigmatized feeling. A unfair disease that really destroys the best thing human beings have: LOVE. This disease is against love, as it leads to distrust in the intimacy.
[…]
On the other hand, please note that nobody should be able to discriminate [against people], that AIDS is just another disease, like any other, and that with proper treatment, people can have a good life expectancy.

And, above all, protect yourself and do not lose hope, the vaccine may be even here soon.

Christ the Redeemer in the World Aids Day. Image by Erika Siqueira from the Miss & Mister blog.

Christ the Redeemer in the World Aids Day. Image by Erika Siqueira from the Miss & Mister blog.

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