by Jeannel Miclat
“Stay still anak”. The mother spoke affectionately as she watched her son. He wiggled and twisted this way and that, as he lay on an old rusted table. He was her last and only child to survive. Wrinkles had finally caught up to the seemingly permanent youthful face of hers. She already lost her earlier children to unwanted friends: Malaria, Dengue, and Tuberculosis. She was not willing to lose her last hope to those plagues again. His possible savior: the vaccines his mother saved up for months to pay for.
“Just a little pinch,” the nurse smiled through her words as she prepared the needle. “Ready?” The little boy shut his eyes, clenched his fists and eventually nodded yes. “All done”, the nurse grinned.
The nurse looked back over her shoulder to see the concerned mother watching her clean the needles and gloves. The nurse broke the tension. “This is a very small and very poor clinic. We cannot afford many gloves or needles. But now we know what to do. There is nothing else to worry about.”
Throughout the world there are thousands of these tiny clinics. Not all of them know how, or can afford to sterilize medical tools that have been contaminated by bodily fluids that contain bacteria and viruses. This leaves many, many children exposed to HIV and eventually AIDS.
Since the early 1980’s, the worldwide HIV infection rate has risen exponentially to 33.4 million in 2008. The highest concentrations of infected people are in some of the poorest and most inadequately supplied regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, South-east Asia, and Latin America. HIV and AIDS has shown it doesn’t discriminate. It knows not your gender, your race, your sexual orientation, or your age. It only knows…you are a host, a possible victim and future statistic. Worldwide media campaigns and Public Services announcements have enlightened people on the transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS. But what if you don’t know? How will you protect yourself? Knowing it exists is not enough. Preventing is not enough. Treating is not enough. Curing HIV is when it will be enough.