Jul 19, 2010

Survivorship

Is anyone doing any work on AIDS survivorship? What do I mean by survivorship?  I am talking about the people whose lives have been impacted by the disease through loved ones, co-workers, friends, etc.

If you have seen firsthand the devastation this scourge has caused, you are never the same. Something inside of you shifts, and evidence of this may not be revealed right away; it could take months or years to manifest. Where is the support to deal with this?

AIDS is not a staid ailment that only claims a few hundred lives each year. I’m 28; I have never known a world without this disease. Life expectancy in Zambia is pegged at 38 (down from 40 but up from 33). If such statistics are to believed I have ten more years to beat the odds. Do I even want to calculate what a 14.3 percent adult prevalence would translate to for me, and the people I know?

A lot of focus has been rightly placed on prevention and treatment, but what about the psychological effects wrought on people who are not HIV negative but have felt the impacts in one way or another? How do you cope with what has been done to the psyche? This would encompass restoring trust in relationships, and in human condition. And how do you avoid fatalism from setting in and taking over? It’s hard to imagine that this not only affects us personally but collectively as a nation. Just how do you heal?

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