Blog of Mass Distraction

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, but before I get into that a few items to cover. Tom Ridge resigned as chief of Homeland Defense. The move was widely expected so no surprise there. Bush is also visiting Canada for a couple of days. He was received in Ottawa with some chilly weather, and a lot of protesters. Bush happily quipped about this saying there were still plenty of people waving at him with all five fingers. He spent yesterday in Ottawa and is due to head to Nova Scotia for today. In Ottawa in discussions with Prime Minister Martin, President Bush brought up something Martin was hoping to avoid, Canada's participation in the North American missile defense system. The majority of Canadians oppose any Canadian participation in the plan.
In Ukraine, talks between current leader Victor Yanukovych and opposition leader Victor Yushenko broke down briefly and there was an attempt to storm the parliament by the many opposition supporters that have been camping out in front of the government buildings for several days now. Only a handful of people managed to get in and Yushenko encouraged his supporters not to take rash actions. It seems that their patience has been rewarded because, though an earlier non-confidence vote failed, another has passed and the leadership will be dissolved with the hope of new elections coming soon.

World AIDS Day is every year on December 1st. This year's focus is on women and AIDS. I think last year the focus was on stigmatization. Women are known to be more at risk of infection than men for many reasons. In a strictly physiological sense women are more susceptible to the infection. But there are many social factors that increase the risk of women. The biggest problem, however, continues to be all the external factors in the areas and countries where people at risk live.
While, as far as I know, most of the people that contract HIV/AIDS in Canada or the US do so through high risk behaviours that are usually very avoidable. Whether through arrogance or ignorance they continue to put their lives at risk. This does not necessarily include the increasing rate of immigrants and refugees that are becoming infected with HIV.
In sub-Saharan Africa and now China, India, Brazil and Eastern Europe, people who do not engage in high risk behaviours, particularly women, are increasingly becoming infected; either through spouses, abuse, or a slew of other reasons. While addressing the disease and helping those with infection is necessary, the tide will not be broken unless the concomitant factors such as poverty, education and health are not dealt with. This is something that Western leaders have rarely addressed and while we continue to avoid it, future generations will continue to be lost.


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