P is for prevalence

By: plusone
Mood: Other
Date: Jun 27, 2013
Music: Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye

P is for prevalence. It’s so easy to forget that prevalence is still a measure of geographic classification of an epidemic. That constant reminder that pops up every now and then to remind you that you are living in ground zero of the scourge. Not that I consider it a scourge as such no different that some other countries think of H1N1 as one of those things that can happen to everyone. Was looking at the newspaper while having breakfast this morning and there was the prevalence word again. And as all things in the news HIV it demanded reading. Why do we do that anywhere? It’s not like things will change or that magic cure will show up any time soon but read we do.

This week has been all about news of reductions in MTCT HIV transmission to the point that it does not happen anymore. Great news. Must have prompted someone to think of overall prevalence rates in adults and I was yet again reminded how that am living in the epicentre of all this. National prevalence rates still stand at 14% but for my city its a whopping 20%. If not mistaken that’s 3% higher than it was three years ago with as many as 185 new infections every day. I am not quite sure if 185 additional cases is good given a population of some 2 million people and where the 20% demographic is most of the time. That’s one in ... I suck at math. lol. Either way 185 every day is huge by any count.

Am thinking the 20% is not seen coz we are supposed to live in the 80% that isnt supposed to be exposed. The 80% that is not pressured to high risk living, the 80% that is righteous, the 80% that has safe sex, the 80% that is not economically and socially pressured into being a part of the other statistic that risks being just another number. Could it be just another smoke screen? That thinking HIV does not happen to people like me is what (a) Causes us not to see the 20% and (b) Clouds our perception to think that we are not part of the any 185 people around the city that will contract HIV today and (c) Stops us identifying with the infected?

Everyone thinks HIV starts outside our homes. Once in the house its a safe haven. Fortress against the virus even long after our walls are breached. 20% is no small deal either. So why the hate? Where is the protection and treatment? Where is the support? Why are so many of us alone? Why should it be that in our churches and universities and offices the assumption is that everyone there is part of the pious 80%? The result is all the support groups and special programs/care are directed at the unfortunate and the undesirables who got infected as a direct result of their circumstances. People who never contributed to society anywhere so do not need the direct support of the tax payer's money or laws to protect their cause. Yet one can’t say 20% of the people in a city this size in a country thats one of the fastest growing economies of the world is made up of drug addicts, sex workers, differently oriented people, the poor and whatever else counts as deserving of HIV.

What good is an analysis of prevalence rates anywhere? A comparison of which reason is doing better than another? A grounds for more aid and funding? A measure of promiscuity or poverty? I'd rather we started a new thinking on what prevalence is and begin to see it more in the light of grounds for empathy, acceptance and support in our communities rather than a litmus test of how good or bad a society is on the morality scale. Instead of prevalence being a measure of how much force we use to ostracize it should be a motivation for empathy and acceptance of the reality that HIV is closer than it seems and that what happened to him or her could very well happen to anyone on any given Sunday. It should have churches rethinking their mandate and choosing to embrace and setup structures of support rather that use it to validate the existence of evil in the world. Must prevalence be the rod we use to whip our children into fear and submission or use as a tool to make an example of what the fact that what goes around comes around? Surely we can take this number that has for so long justified so much pain and hurt and turn it around for good.


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June 28, 2013, 7:47 am

 Wow !! Brilliant blog interesting read and so profound many unanswered questions ,thats a lot of Math and calculation ..Empathy acceptance and support is more useful 

I have little or no consideration for THE WHEN ..I live for the NOW