What You Need to Know About the Masai Village HIV:AIDS CrisisHIV/AIDS affects the majority of African countries. Masai villages are located in Kenya, where approximately one in five adults is currently infected with HIV/AIDS. The Masai Village HIV/AIDS crisis continues to affect many, and, as a result, humanitarian organizations are working to alleviate the increasingly high infection rates.

What Does the Masai Village HIV/AIDS Crisis Look like?

HIV/AIDS infection rates are increasingly high and treatment rates are increasingly low. Of the affected 38 African countries, Kenya, the home of Masai villages, is the fifth most affected country in the world. Masai culture is greatly patriarchal, traditional and resistant toward common health practices. Marriage practices, a fundamental aspect of the Masai culture, gravely impact the Masai village members’ health. Prior to marital relationships, most girls will have sexual relations with young warriors and such relations will continue after the girls are properly married. Immediately after reaching puberty, girls are married to older men with the goal of preventing childbirth out of wedlock.

Even after marriage, most women fear seeking testing or treatment, as husbands will abandon their wives if they are infected with HIV/AIDS. Because men provide financial support, housing and food, women, understandably, do not seek appropriate treatment.

In Kenya, more than 30% of newborns are infected with HIV/AIDS and approximately half of those children die before they are 2 years old. The alarmingly high death rate is largely due to the fact that both the babies and their mothers do not seek proper diagnoses, let alone treatment. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) found that since the onset of the global HIV/AIDS crisis in 1981, 17 million children lost at least one parent from HIV/AIDS. Of those 17 million children, 91% live in Sub-Saharan African countries such as Kenya.

Obstacles in Alleviating HIV/AIDS Rates

According to Doctors Without Borders, a fundamental obstacle posed by the Masai Village HIV/AIDS crisis is the unavailability of health clinics. Because Masai villages are independent of the country’s government rule, little progress can be made from African or Kenyan government forces. Masai villages are primarily controlled by a Laibon, a de facto leader of the village, who makes decisions regarding marriages, cattle, spiritual practices and health. Laibons primarily practice alternative medicine, leaving the communities with no access to HIV/AIDS treatment.

Even if there is a clinic close by, they are unlikely to have treatment. In addition to stigmas around testing, clinics do not have the antiretroviral treatments that are available in the United States. In implementing antiretroviral treatments within the United States, mortality rates have been reduced by more than 80%. But, such treatments can cost more than $9,000, which Masai village members and clinics cannot afford. Furthermore, there are numerous legal barriers preventing the production and importation of antiretroviral treatment to Kenya, specifically the rural areas of the Masai villages.

Progress for the Masai Village HIV/AIDS Crisis

The Masai village HIV/AIDS crisis has extreme implications. HIV/AIDS most commonly affects the younger, more sexually-active members of the village. Because the younger population is more physically able to partake in laborious work, the strenuous tasks that keep the villages operating cannot be completed if they are sick. Therefore, high infection rates lead to a decrease in social contribution. Without the help of younger Masai members, the villages become vulnerable to instability. For both health reasons and the function of their villages, Masai members will not be able to survive if Kenya’s infection rate remains above 4%.

Because limited progress can be made from within the Masai villages, many global aid organizations such as Adapt-A-Doctor and Kenya AIDS Intervention are paying physicians to practice in struggling countries. Additionally, Doctors Without Borders is increasing their time in hotspot countries, such as Kenya, where they provide free counseling and testing to Masai village members.

Through the efforts of external organizations and health associations, awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Masai villages is increasing. The help of such organizations in collaboration with Masai villages will lead its members to live healthier, safer and longer lives.

– Maya Sulkin

Photo: Flickr

Cricket Without Boundaries

Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB) is a U.K. based charity, founded in 2005. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness about the HIV/AIDs epidemic occurring in various impoverished communities.

CWB does this through integrating lessons about HIV and AIDs with cricket instruction. These cricket programs are designed to, “break down the barriers of discrimination, empower individuals and educate about HIV/AIDs prevention and testing.”

This charity is currently involved in five African countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. Within these countries, CWB offers cricket coaching programs as well as comprehensive sexual education.

The organization aims to go beyond the traditional approach to understanding sexual education as a method for fighting transmitting STIs. This traditional method involves abstinence, being faithful to a single partner, condom use and testing (ABC and T). CWB includes this approach in its lessons but also understands that HIV spreads despite abstinence and faithfulness.

The charity wants to provide accurate sexual education to both genders to further protect women and girls (among the most vulnerable) from HIV. By eliminating the gender gap in sexual education, CWB has a stronger impact in these communities.

By focusing on prevention and healthy sexual relationships, the organization has successfully educated thousands of adults and children. CWB trains various coaches within these countries to create a sustainable community-level program.

The charity states that it has, “coached over 65,000 children, who will be the next generation of cricketers, passing on skills and knowledge in cricket grounds, schools and communities, both about cricket and about the disease.”

By utilizing sport to build a supportive community that educates both adults and children about HIV/AIDS, Cricket Without Boundaries provides a model of disease prevention that can be applied globally.

CWB has gained traction over the years in major news sources such as BBC and CNN. In 2014, CNN conducted interviews within one of the charity’s projects in Rwanda.

Eric Hirwa, a member of Rwanda’s national cricket team, is among the individuals interviewed who train and educate hundreds of Rwandan children each week. The most recent UNAIDS data estimated 210,000 people living with HIV in the country.

This same report estimated 85,000 children to be orphaned as a result of AIDS and 3,000 deaths due to the virus. Rwanda is just one example of the vulnerable communities CWB targets.

Funding Cricket Without Boundaries and other similar organizations can significantly improve the current state of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the developing world.

Saroja Koneru

Photo: Flickr

Hydeia Broadbent
Growing up in the ’90s, it is not easy to forget those who mustered up the courage to appear on nationally syndicated talk programs, where they detailed impactful incidents while addressing how they managed to not let it interfere with their lives. Hydeia Broadbent embodied that example, and years later she is still addressing an issue: smiling in the face of AIDS.

Since her birth on June 14, 1984, Broadbent, a Las Vegas native, has been HIV positive. Abandoned by her drug-abusing biological mother and raised by adoptive parents, the young Broadbent sought medical treatment throughout her early life, traveling from state to state in a desperate attempt to find an answer to the life-threatening disease.

The time would come when Broadbent, at five-years-old, was enrolled at the Maryland-based National Institutes of Health (NIH). There, Broadbent garnered attention from famous AIDS activist Elizabeth Glaser, who branded Broadbent her hero and willingly asked Broadbent’s mother, shortly before her death, if the young AIDS sufferer could speak publicly of her experience.

Her mother agreed, and what soon followed were iconic visuals featuring Broadbent advocating for increased awareness of the misconceptions concerning HIV/AIDS.

Among those pieces included the 1992 Nickelodeon televised special featuring famed basketball player Magic Johnson. The televised event presented a group of kids whose lives had been altered by the contraction of AIDS, and also featured a weeping Broadbent who cried and yearned for the comfort of former playmates that lost their lives to AIDS.

The awareness statement soon accumulated not only news coverage, but also assorted views from several activists and entertainers, including Broadbent’s favorite singer, Janet Jackson.

Just two years following the child-targeted special, Broadbent already possessed various experiences and accolades under her belt. The young activist toured with the likes of Billy Ray Cyrus at AIDS-benefit concerts, established the Hydeia L. Broadbent Foundation and soon attained her first honorific recognition from the Black Achievers Awards, as documented in the March 1994 issue of JET Magazine.

The philanthropic win would open the door to more opportunities for Broadbent to voice the adjustments she had to make as means to survive with an AIDS infection.

From guest college lectures to documentary segments, Hydeia Broadbent earned eligibility as a guest attendant on a 1996 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

During her televised appearance, Broadbent disclosed the horrors of how AIDS altered her immunity and health. The tiny advocate shared that fungus was growing on her brain and that blood infections increased her chance of dying, but among the most difficult for Broadbent to fathom was the reality that AIDS-infected friends of her own had died.

Her emotional plea was not the only massive reception-generator of 1996; an esteemed hearing at a Californian Republican rally would position Broadbent for popular philanthropic stardom.

“I am the future, and I have AIDS” served as vital words that emphasized Broadbent’s command upon the political stage and would go on to captivate a nation, placing pressure on politicians to up the ante on awareness of and medical tactics towards combating the harrowing sexual disease.

With high achievements and laudable recognition channeling from coast to coast, Broadbent felt inner torment eating away at her as she struggled with the overwhelming responsibilities of being a humanitarian success, all while battling a deep depression. By the late ’90s, it became all too much for the young AIDS sufferer.

From 1998 to 2011, Broadbent kept a low profile to explore what she had left of her youthful years. But during her public absence, Broadbent’s name still managed to surface in scarce reports and rare public television appearances.

The Broadbent family’s book, “You Get Past the Tears,” published in 2002, and their 2004 feature on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” were close enough to what the nation would get as far as Hydeia Broadbent’s health progress was concerned.

However, she would not be missing from the public eye for long. In May 2012, Broadbent’s name reemerged when she was tapped for commentary in a CNN article detailing her involvement with the ESPN documentary “The Announcement,” a visual featuring AIDS sufferer Magic Johnson, who had previously met Broadbent in his Nickelodeon-sponsored special decades prior.

Within the news report, Broadbent was deemed a “life changer” by Johnson for her courage in sharing her turbulent struggles of living with AIDS at such a young age.

Further media buzz skyrocketed when Broadbent was highly requested by audiences to be featured in a 2014 “Where Are They Now” special on The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), catching viewers up on how her personal life has progressed, specifically concerning romantic relationships and steady donative work.

Broadbent, now 31-years-old, is still vowing to remain a pivotal voice in the HIV/AIDS community to convey her message that AIDS is neither something to play around with nor something that should be viewed as an easy way of living.

Broadbent feels the burden day-in and day-out of taking a handful of medications each day to prevent potential AIDS-induced infections, citing the responsibility as a “life sentence” rather than a “death sentence,” especially when dealing with financial hardships relating to medical insurance.

Nevertheless, the series of frustrations stemming from medical visits has not interrupted her diligent work ethic as a key speaker for AIDS awareness programs.

As recently as February 2015, Broadbent has added another endorsement to her extensive list of accolades: she was chosen as a partner for “Ampro Pro Style” beauty line to raise awareness of the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This was part of a campaign to increase efforts to educate black communities on the basics of how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Yet it is not only endorsements that Broadbent continues to accumulate on her shelf of awards. Known for the lectures and speeches she gives yearly in college and academic settings, in early June 2015, she secured a keynote speaker role at Louisiana-based Southern University’s annual O.M.G. Youth Conference, to elaborate on the AIDS crisis with young women in a “girl talk-style outlet.”

With further academic orations and pending documentary plans still going strong, Broadbent works effortlessly to remind the unaware of the dangers that await them if protection is not fully recognized when engaging in sexual activity.

Broadbent, whose hometown of Las Vegas has commemorated a holiday in her honor, believes that with time and the right medical innovations, HIV/AIDS will eventually be fully eradicated. She concedes, however, that it is going to take time and full knowledge from the public to understand that this is not a disease to joke around with.

As the optimistic Broadbent proclaimed to CNN reporting staff: “[The current generation] thinks [they] can pop a pill and be OK, [but] they don’t know the seriousness of the disease, [let alone medicated] side effects and financial realities of the situation. They really don’t know that you can die.”

– Jefferson Varner IV

Sources: CNN, People, Las Vegas Sun, The Advocate, Huffington Post, PR Newswire, POZ
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The inaugural Inspiration Gala Rio de Janeiro held this month raised more than $600,000 for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.  The gala is part of the Inspiration series, which has held multiple other galas in New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, and Miami.  This year saw the addition of Rio and Toronto to the list of worldwide locations.

“The Inspiration Gala Series: A Celebration of Style” was launched in 2010 by amfAR and Josh Wood Productions, as a worldwide fundraising event to benefit amfAR.  To date the Inspiration series has raised more than $10 million for AIDS research. The $2,500-a-plate Rio black-tie gala was hosted by supermodel Linda Evangelista and included performances by Preta Gil and Ana Carolina. Academy Award winning actress Goldie Hawn and Fashion Designer and amfAR Chairman Kenneth Cole also served as Honorary Chairs. A portion of the proceeds from the benefit will specifically benefit a local Brazilian organization called Pela Vidda, which is dedicated to improving the lives of those with HIV/AIDS.

A live auction of exclusive luxury items was held during the benefit, including tickets to the French Open semifinals, a stay at the Chateau de Saran owned by the Moet & Chandon champagne family, and a Linda Evangelista autographed gold-leaf covered Moet & Chandon Imperial Jeroboam (which sold for $30,000). The exact amount raised was not announced, but local news reports estimated around $1 million. AmfAR fundraising events are lavish affairs that have raised over $350 million in the past 25 years.  A wide range of events is held, including cocktail receptions, store openings, art auctions, and international galas.  Their annual dinner during the Cannes Film Festival has come to be known as the Who’s Who of the movie industry. The millions of dollars that amfAR has invested in HIV/AIDS research has led to pioneering research and development of new treatments, preventative medicines and vaccines, and has also played a role in clinical studies and securing passage of key legislation.

The latest global statistics indicate that 33.4 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS, 97% of which reside in low-income countries.  While most people living with HIV/AIDS still do not have proper access to prevention, care, or treatment, there have been successes in terms of a global effort to address the epidemic. The United States government has also taken on this cause in the form of research and development, technical assistance and financial support.  Among the largest commitments by any nation to combat a single disease internationally is the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  PEPFAR is the largest component of the U.S. Global Health Initiative, which focuses on improving the health of women, newborns and children.

– Rifk Ebeid

Sources: AMFAR, JoshWood, BigStory, AIDS
Photo: My Daily

The Garifuna people of Honduras have an HIV infection rate of 4.5 percent – higher than any nation in the Western hemisphere, and five times higher than Honduras as a whole. Those affected by the virus are finding new and creative ways to fight HIV/AIDS in Honduras.

According to an NPR report funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Garifuna are using traditional music and theater to raise awareness of HIV, and to combat stigmas surrounding the disease. Musician and singers perform traditional celebratory Garifuna songs to draw listeners, and then enact a play in which actors put HIV on trial.

Many Hondurans who are HIV-positive are reluctant to seek help, even though HIV clinics provide medical care and antiretroviral medication to patients at almost no cost. They deny having the problem because they fear judgment or ostracization, and for good reason. Lack of education has been a major contributor to high infection rates. Women infected with the virus report being rejected by family and unable to find work.

Widespread poverty and migration also contribute to new infections. In some areas it is socially acceptable to have multiple sexual partners. Testing facilities are not widely used, and communication between sexual partners is nonexistent in some cases.

Participants in the Garifuna theater group believe that theater, music, and other community activities are more engaging than books or pamphlets around such complex social and medical issues. Fighting HIV/AIDS in Honduras, especially among rural populations, is a challenge. But the creative approach is working well so far.

USAID and the Honduran government are funding theater groups like the Garifuna’s. A USAID official reported a decline in the rate of HIV infection among program beneficiaries: the 30 members of the theater group are living safer lives, and encouraging others to do so. The problem of HIV/AIDS in Honduras is not yet resolved, but community engagement through the arts is a step in the right direction.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: NPR