HIV/AIDS

Zambia is plagued with HIV/AIDS, in fact its an epidemic and the prevalence seems to remain at critical levels.  As I understand it, the  primary means of HIV transmission here is through heterosexual sex and mother-to-child transmission. There appears to be a stigma and much misinformation about HIV/AIDS that prevents people from seeking treatment and care.  This is complicated by a lack of information and the availability of treatment services...and years of customs and traditions.  There are billboards along the highways, especially  near the towns warning the public about HIV/AIDS and encouraging abstinence.  One sign states, "We're all infected until we're tested." When we arrived at the airport, of course we all had to use the restroom.  And right there in the airport facilities are free condoms -- a big box!  In Hawaii people are presented with leis and in  Zambia we are greeted with condoms! What a cultural difference! Last night at church Mr. Merritt preached and the topic was ... abstinence. Since AIDS is so prevalent, educating the public is critical even in church.  Mr. Merritt was explicit in his presentation and warned the men that circumcision is not protection, which is a common belief. He captured the audience's attention using two different colored marbles and placing them in a bag.  He required each of the twelve male "volunteers" standing on stage to draw out a marble.  If it was red, then they were dead and if it was white it was alright (he didn't use those words but probably should have). Then, those men remaining had to draw again and again until all were "dead".  Probability proven. Point well made.

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I am a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist with 36 years of experience and I am about to embark on the experience of a lifetime!

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