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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

PEPFARThe PEPFAR plan (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) for 2017-2020 was released this September. The United States continues to be the global leader in the fight to end HIV/AIDS worldwide. The PEPFAR plan includes three main goals that the government hopes to achieve in more than 50 countries. The first is to continue life-saving treatment while making necessary services available. The second is to provide more services for orphans and other vulnerable children who are immediately affected when their caretaker dies from this disease. The final goal is to make significant progress towards controlling the disease in the 13 countries most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS by 2020.

PEPFAR is the largest bilateral donor to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Despite saving many lives, the PEPFAR plan also includes reducing the future costs needed to control the HIV/AIDS response. There are five main steps that PEPFAR plans to take:

  1. Accelerate optimized HIV testing and treatment strategies. This will target men under the age of 35, as more than half of men under 35 do not know if they have the disease, which contributes greatly to the epidemic in young women and young men.
  2. Expand HIV protection measures by focusing on young men and women through innovative and successful programs called DREAMS for girls and VMMC for boys.
  3. Use of granular epidemiological and funding data to increase program impact and effectiveness.
  4. Renew engagements with faith-based organizations as well as the private sector to improve efforts towards epidemic control.
  5. Strengthened policy and financial contributions by the partner governments in the disease response.

PEPFAR is a crucial part of the process to gain control over the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The UNAIDS Facts for 2017 warns that although progress is being made in 69 countries, the efforts towards fighting the viral transmission are not happening quickly enough to meet global targets. The reports also stated that there were 36.7 million people living with HIV last year. The epidemic is declining, but more initiatives like PEPFAR are needed to bring it under control.

Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

AIDS_activism

It is pretty hard to miss Rosie Perez these days, considering the fact that the outspoken actress currently serves as a regular on ABC talk program “The View.” Yet, prior to daytime work, when she was stealing eyes with impeccable dance moves with Spike Lee in the renowned classic “Do the Right Thing,” the Puerto Rican entertainer frequently made a cherishing landmark in HIV/AIDS activism.

Like so many in the late 1980s, Rosie Perez was unaware of the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Her knowledge of the crisis would soon be redefined after noting personal acquaintances contracting the disease and the “[once-undivided] sexual lives” within New York City “slowly but surely” separating.

As early as 1991, Perez ventured as an AIDS activist, when she first lectured in local inner-New York City high schools about alarming statistics concerning the treacherous sexual disease and educated youths on safe-sex protection.

It would not be until mid-April 1993, following her feature in the theatrical “Untamed Heart,” that Perez would move more into the philanthropic scene by taking part in events like a 5-hour fundraiser AIDS Dance-a-thon, where proceeds would benefit several AIDS foundations, especially AIDS Project Los Angeles. Perez would go on to become a recurring donor for the event years to come, including a high-profiled 2004 feature with fellow philanthropist Lil’ Kim.

By 1995, Ms. Perez used her star power to educate national audiences of the AIDS epidemic through various media outlets, from radio guest spots on Hot 97 to televised co-hosting slots on ABC’s “In a New Light: Sex Unplugged.” The latter would prove essential with praise boasting from “POZ” magazine, of which the publication cited Perez’s contribution as the “most effective sex-ed […] ever aired by [prime time] commercial grids.”

But what would soon be even more significant came in May 1996 when the Latina megastar delivered an outspoken speech during the charitable event Central AIDS Walk. Throughout her oration, Perez achingly recollected a close friend dying of AIDS and went on to urge New York politicians to increase attention of the crisis.

With Perez’s address attracting headlines like “The New York Daily News,” the annual AIDS Walk would accumulate a staggering $5 million for the nonprofit Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC).

Three years following the success, Perez created even more buzz with her bold statement to “MTV,” in which the Nuyorican star denounced pop stars like Britney Spears for not using their “star power” as an advantage to voice greater awareness of the AIDS crisis, instead “wast[ing]” it upon meaningless nonsense.

As Rosie Perez’s philanthropic routines continued to grant her access within the multimedia stream, Perez’s estranged mother, Lydia, contacted “The New York Daily News” in July 2000, alleging that her daughter was not “returning her phone calls,” in the wake of her decreasing health caused by AIDS. The ignored phone call allegation was immediately shot down when Perez and her publicist confirmed that financial assistance offered to Lydia was accepted, yet strangely, assistance from Perez’s philanthropic allies was declined.

Despite her mother’s proposed claims, Rosie Perez attended the bedside of dying Lydia shortly before her passing.

From the aftermath of her mother’s death to a backfire of her April 2006 protest outside the United Nations building, the vibrant “In Loving Color” choreographer never steered away from her activism, instead, embarking further in enhancing her charitable causes.

A December 1, 2006 visual showcased such, where Rosie Perez served as a director and feature in the Spanish PSA “Join the Fight,” an advert aimed at the Latino community that disclosed a statistically increased rate of AIDS within men, specifically closeted gays who “hide” due to difficulty of acceptance. Six days following the televised release, Perez elaborated further on the growing matter during the annual Voices of Color Lecture at Hamilton College.

The tireless efforts yielded by Perez may have been at once “minimally news-covered,” but the AIDS activist would earn her dues beyond unpredictable measures.

Immense recognition occurred when President Barack Obama appointed Perez to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). On February 1, 2010, Perez was officially sworn into office, securing her title to transmit information and tips to the president, alongside providing input for the National HIV/AIDS strategy.

Since her astounding honorific title, the hard-working Perez has never stopped raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, regardless of recent-age medical treatment and a showering of accolades (among them an annual Cielo Latino Award named after her). Utilizing her power on “The View” as the perfect platform to remind audiences of the dangers triggered by AIDS, Rosie Perez is among the brave working to put an end to an epidemic that holds 33 million global lives infected and that adds a new victim every 9.5 minutes within American grounds.

– Jefferson Varner IV

Sources: NY Daily News 1, POZ, Kismet Films, White House, Hamilton College, blackfilm.com, MTV, ‘Latin American’ Rhythm Magazine Spokesman, PR NewsWire, Los Angeles Times, NY Daily News 2
Photo: Inquisitr