Anger · Charity

AIDS vs. Christianity

Husband sent me an email the other day with a link to this photo in it:

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I’ll give you a second to absorb the information in that photo…

Can you see the message it’s putting across? The map on the right shows the distribution and severity of the AIDS virus in Africa. The map on the left shows the concentration of religions (notably Christianity, in red) by country. There is an ALARMING correlation between the two maps, is there not?

When are we going to realise that religion is responsible for almost every major world issue that we’re facing today? The Catholic church is sending missionaries to African countries and spreading the belief that not only will they burn in hell for eternity if they use contraception, but that condoms do nothing to halt the spread of the disease  which is grossly wrong. The Wikipedia page on ‘Religion and HIV/AIDS’ says “Pope John Paul II strongly opposed the use of artificial birth control, and rejected the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.[8] Pope Benedict XVI stated in 2005 that condoms were not a sufficient solution to the AIDS crisis,[9] but then in 2009 claimed that AIDS “cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems.””

The irony of the statement above becomes even greater when you factor in the fact that the Catholic church considers AIDS and HIV to be a ‘gay’ disease and punishment for promiscuous behaviour, yet actively blocks gay marriage and the concept of monogamy for gay couples. We’ve let religion dictate our political decisions for far too long.

I’m by no means lumping every Christian into this category, but there are extremists in every denomination and the western world needs to wake up to the fact that telling citizens of a country which has an AIDS pandemic that condoms don’t protect against AIDS is religious extremism in its worst form.

It’s being reported that rape is being used as a weapon more than ever in many African nations since the explosion in infection rates of HIV and AIDS. The Unitied Nations University said “One striking difference between the use of rape as a weapon of war in pre-1990 conflicts and in latter-day wars is the emergence and “willful” transmission of HIV to the victims. Serious questions have been raised in the social science literature about the actual time of transmission and infection, and whether the “intent” of the perpetrators could conclusively be to infect the victim with HIV. Nonetheless, there is evidence from the victims’ accounts confirming the deliberate nature of these acts.

In her 2004 book, The Right to Survive: Sexual Violence, Women and HIV/AIDS, Françoise Nduwimana reported the testimony of one of the many rape victims during the genocide:

“For 60 days, my body was used as a thoroughfare for all the hoodlums, militia men and soldiers in the district.… Those men completely destroyed me; they caused me so much pain. They raped me in front of my six children.… Three years ago, I discovered I had HIV/AIDS. There is no doubt in my mind that I was infected during these rapes.””

People may blanch at the term ‘pro-choice’ but for me, being pro-choice isn’t just about abortion. Pro-choice means that EVERYONE has the right to choose. They have the right to choose to protect themselves against disease and poverty just as they also have a right to follow religious doctrine if they choose to. Preaching anti-contraception propaganda to vulnerable masses is dangerous.

Marie Stopes is doing fantastic work in Africa and other Third World countries to try to eliminate HIV and AIDS by providing contraception and family planning advice, as well as access to safe abortions and sexual health treatment. If you’d like to help them by donating to their cause, or simply educating yourself about the work that they do, you can GO HERE.

Do me a favour. Take another look at that map. Really think about the implications. Then think about the fact that 12 years ago, some Muslim extremists flew a plane into some buildings. 2996 people were killed that day and the USA and UK went to war with Iraq, leading to around 655,000 excess deaths, 601,027 of which were violent, according to The Lancet.

Through reading various publications, I found the following facts: Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 68% of all people living with HIV, however is only home to 12% of the world’s population. The vast majority of people in the region acquire the viurus during unprotected heterosexual intercourse or through breastfeeding as newborn babies. Of the estimated 22.9 million people living with AIDS in the region, 59% are women. Between 1999 and 2000, more people died of AIDS-related diseases in Africa than all the worlds wars combined. In 2010 alone, HIV/AIDS related diseases killed 1.2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. Almost 90% of the 16.6 million children orphaned by AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 2 million adolescents aged 10-19 are living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of them don’t even know they’re infected.

Why aren’t we going to war over that?

SOURCES

http://www.stephenlewisfoundation.org/assets/files/Materials%20-%20General/SLF_HIV-AIDS_factsheet.pdf

http://unu.edu/publications/articles/rape-and-hiv-as-weapons-of-war.html

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Anger · Family · Health · Politics

The NHS and Me

I’ve got a bit of a tumultuous past with the NHS. When I was 6 I contracted meningococcal septicaemia, my Mum rushed me to our local hospital who sent me home with a diagnosis of a chest infection. It wasn’t until I started to become worryingly ill and Mum took me to a different A&E  that it was finally recognised and I got much needed treatment, but it was touch and go for a while and I still have lasting effects of the disease now.

If you look at my medical history, there’s a long line of medical cock-ups followed by relief and resolution and if I’m honest, I’m rather jaded when it comes to my health. I find it hard to sit back and accept diagnoses of ‘we just don’t know’ as I’ve been fobbed off on so many occasions and the less said about the birth of Sausage the better as it’s a veritable catalogue of errors.

But let’s look at this from the flipside.

What about the doctor who DID diagnose my meningitis, before it was too late? What about the nurse who laid on me to keep me still while I had my lumbar puncture? What about the surgeon who made my caesarean incision at 9.16pm and birthed Sausage at 9.17pm? What about the doctors who have helped my various friends and family, brought them back to health or made their last days comfortable?

The reason I’m thinking about all of this is that I was in hospital yesterday. Sausage and I went to the supermarket in the morning and I started to feel extremely nauseous on the way there so we rushed into the loos when we got there and I proceeded to vomit up what seemed like quite a lot of blood. Being the dickhead I am, I finished my shopping and came home to put a stew on to cook before very calmly telling Husband that I needed to go to the hospital.

I took myself off to A&E and spent five hours there all in all. I could moan about how long it took and I DID could moan about how uncomfortable the seats were but I sat there thinking about a documentary that Sausage, Husband and I watched recently about childbirth which, as a sub-plot, followed a couple who lived in an African country. The lady was heavily pregnant and had to walk for 5 hours to get to the nearest clinic once she went into labour. Once she got to the clinic, there was still no guarantee that her birth would go smoothly as both infant and maternal mortality rates were astonishingly high. She made the journey without complaint and gave birth to a beautiful baby.

All I’m saying is, five hours seems like a long time to wait but I got to do it in a clean, warm room with chairs, have free medical attention including x-rays, blood tests with clean needles and results within the hour. Yes, the NHS is an administrative cluster-fuck at the best of times, but can you imagine life without it? Could you afford comprehensive private healthcare in your family budget?

The fact that our public services are being dismantled before our eyes for the private gain of many a politician is genuinely scary and I dread to think of what will happen to the level of health amongst normal people in the UK. We’re ALL guilty from time to time of moaning about the National Health Service, but I really hate to think of the standard that it’s going to slip to before we all realise just how lucky we were to have it. I wouldn’t mind betting that the number of medical negligence cases will sky-rocket, too.

Except, by then it may just be too late…