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21
Oct
07

How HIV man became a proud dad

LIKE a lot of men, Perry Evans had always taken for granted that one day he would become a dad.

But at the young age of 24 his world came crashing down around him when doctors told him that he was HIV positive.

Perry, originally from Aberavon, Port Talbot, was a haemophiliac and had accidentally been infected with the virus by an NHS blood transfusion.

Not only did he think it would end his dreams of starting a family – but he thought he would have just a few years to live.

The 46-year old said: “When I found out I was HIV positive at the age of 24, I felt as if I’d been handed a death sentence.

“My future just disappeared – it was assumed I’d never have unprotected sex, never father children. Worst of all, I was told I’d only have another two to five years to live before dying a painful death.

“And in my head, those few years were going to be sexless and loveless.”

But rather than resigning himself to being ill, Perry put on a brave face and resolutely decided to make the best of his life.

He said: “It was actually my mum who took it hardest though.

“Because haemophilia is passed on maternally, she already felt guilty for my health problems.

“But I’ve always faced things head-on, and I quickly came to terms with it. What choice did I have? I realised HIV didn’t have to stop me living.”

Perry was keen to start a relationship, but was fully aware that a lot of girls might have been deterred by his illness.

But he soon fell for a woman called Heather, who was 22 at the time.

He said: “I dated a couple of girls, but because I’m a Christian sex was always something I was saving for marriage.

“It didn’t become an issue until I met Heather in 1987. I knew straight away she was special – that she could be the one. I told her about my HIV status on our second date.

“I would have been gutted if she’d turned round and said, ‘Sorry, I want a man who can give me kids,’ or didn’t want to know me because of the disease. But it was a risk I knew I had to take.”

Although Heather admits that she was hesitant to begin with, she also believed that the relationship was too special to pass by.

Perry said: “Thankfully for me, Heather was brilliant about it. She didn’t freak out, and she told me soon after I dropped the bombshell that she’d decided she wanted to give things a go.

“A year later, we were married. Thinking I only had five years, tops, to live, there was no point in us hanging round.

“Of course, I worried about leaving Heather a widow and taking away her chance of becoming a mum. But I figured she’d still be young enough to meet someone else after I’d gone.”

From the very beginning Perry and Heather were constantly told by doctors that they would never be able to have children.

But despite Perry’s deteriorating health, the couple were determined to give it a go. They had heard about a pioneering technique called ‘sperm washing’ that looked like it could give them the chance to be parents.

Perry said: “Before I got HIV, I’d always thought I’d be a dad. But it was something I’d learnt not to think about. And so when I heard about sperm washing, I was really excited.”

The process allows doctors to separate the male’s sperm from the HIV virus. The sperm is then injected into the female egg using artificial insemination.

But the couple were told that there was still a three to six per cent risk of either Heather or the baby contracting the disease.

Neither did – and the couple were blessed with not one but two children.

Perry said: “Luckily it worked, and in 2001 Isaac was born. It was overwhelming. Then, in 2005 we were blessed with our beautiful daughter, Cerian.”

The couple, who now live in Worcestershire, will soon celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. And although they don’t know what’s around the corner, they are living each and every day to the full.

Perry said: “My kids are a ray of sunshine. I try not to waste a moment and spend as much time as I can with them.

“I’ve got liver disease now, and I know I won’t be around forever. But just being here, with a wonderful wife and two kids, is a miracle.”

andrew.dagnell@mediawales.co.uk

19
Oct
07

South Africa losing battle against HIV/Aids

BBC News: Unicef’s South Africa representative, Macharia Kamau, said infection and death rates were outpacing treatment.

This was having a devastating effect on children whose parents died of Aids, and sent out a dire message for the future, he said.

Mr Kamau said if present trends continued, there could be five million orphans in South Africa by 2015.

Huge risk

South Africa is one of just nine countries worldwide where infant mortality is rising – from 60 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990, to 95 deaths today.

The main reason, Unicef says, is HIV/Aids.

The average infection rate is almost 30% of the population – and in some regions it is closer to 50%.

Speaking in Geneva, Mr Kamau said the effect on children was devastating, and that infants whose mothers died of Aids were at huge risk of dying themselves.

Older children who have lost one or more parents faced a struggle to survive and to go to school, he added.

In South Africa today there are 1.5 million Aids orphans. If the trend of 400,000 deaths from Aids per year continues, by 2015, the number of orphans will have reached five million.

Mr Kamau said that the numbers of people in South Africa being treated for Aids were constantly being outstripped by the numbers becoming infected and dying.

He described this as a dire message for the future because although 380,000 South African Aids patients were receiving anti-retroviral drugs, 1.2 million were not receiving treatment.

As long as infection and death rates continued to outpace treatment, South Africa would lose the battle against Aids, he said.

Unicef says an aggressive expansion of treatment is needed immediately, alongside a much more open Aids prevention campaign from the government, to challenge the stigma which still surrounds the disease in South Africa.

08
Oct
07

Hope’s Voice: Does HIV Look Like Me?

Hope’s Voice is a national HIV and AIDS organization committed to promoting the education and prevention of HIV and AIDS to young adults. Hope’s Voice uses open dialogue and peer-to-peer education, through both speaker appearances of young adults living with HIV and AIDS and progressive programs to send this crucial message: HIV and AIDS does not discriminate. Hope’s Voice aims to raise awareness and help young adults create the social change that is needed to end this epidemic.

The organization represents a group of talented and diverse young adults, all living with HIV and AIDS. Their speakers prove, the disease shows no preference towards gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, demographic or economic status.

06
Oct
07

Don’t let Aids gain more ground

Great PSA!!!!  Katamari style!

05
Oct
07

Aids Walk Washington This Saturday!!! Oct 6th, 2007

AIDS Walk Washington is October 6, 2007

1 out of 20 District residents is infected with HIV. That’s 5% of the population
1 out of 50 District residents is already living with AIDS
If DC were a country it would rank in between The Republic of Congo and Rwanda in terms of HIV infection rates!

Put Your Foot Down – Register Today!

Show your support for Whitman-Walker Clinic at the 21st annual AIDS Walk Washington on Saturday, Oct. 6, at Freedom Plaza. The goal is 25,000 walkers, one for each person living with HIV in the District of Columbia. You can register as an individual walker or build a team of 10 or more people.

For more information on AIDS Walk, call 202-332-WALK or visit the AIDS Walk website . Check out the TV PSAs produced by NBC4!

PSA 1
PSA 2

The Grand Marshall this year is Chip Arndt. You may remember Chip Arndt from his stint on the TV show The Amazing Race. Chip and then-partner Reichen Lehmkuehl won not only the big prize, but also plenty of attention for being the first same-sex couple to do so. Even before the show, Chip Arndt was known for his support of LGBT and HIV/AIDS causes. Since the show, however, he has been able to do even more.

Come out on this Saturday and show your support!!!

05
Oct
07

Maryland Prisons Have Highest Percentage of AIDS Cases Nationwide, DOJ Report Says

[Oct 02, 2007]  Prisons in Maryland have the highest percentage of inmates living with AIDS nationwide, according to a study by the Department of Justice, the Baltimore Sun reports. The study is based on statistics from 41 states at the end of 2005.

The study found that AIDS cases among inmates in Maryland prisons increased from 204 in 2004 to 408 in 2005 and that 1.8% of inmates in Maryland are living with AIDS. Although the number of inmates living with AIDS increased, the study found a decrease in the number of HIV-positive inmates from 988 in 2003 to 792 in 2004 and 671 in 2005 (Garland, Baltimore Sun, 9/29). The number of HIV-positive inmates nationwide and the number of AIDS cases decreased in 2005, the report found (Lamothe, Annapolis Capital, 9/29).

Richard Rosenblatt, assistant secretary for DPSCS, said a “high rate of HIV should be expected” in Maryland prisons because of the high number of injection drug users in the Baltimore area. According to CDC, the Baltimore area in 2005 had the second-highest rate of AIDS nationwide, with 40.4 cases per 100,000 people (Annapolis Capital, 9/29)

26
Sep
07

Mexican court: HIV-positive soldiers may serve

In a landmark decision, the Mexican Supreme Court has ruled that the forced expulsion of soldiers from military bodies because they are HIV-positive is unconstitutional:

“Being HIV-positive does not in itself imply an inability to serve in the armed forces,” the judges wrote in the ruling issued Monday. “Therefore it will be up to the military to determine, case by case, if the degree of effect on the soldier’s health makes it impossible to remain in active service.”

The ruling was made by the Supreme Court after hearing five consecutive cases with the same charge: that soldiers had been discharged from the armed forces because of their HIV status. Back in February, the Court ordered the Mexican Army and Marines to readmit four soldiers who were discharged because they were HIV-positive. – Univision

20
Sep
07

Personal Responsibility

14
Sep
07

Cambodia and Ethiopia: Real life stories of people living with HIV & hunger

2006 WFP/A K Kimoto Chea and her husband Hom receive a WFP food ration, which helps ensure that their TB and anti-retroviral treatment is as effective as possible.

Cambodia: Chea, Hom and Nob Nem

11 August 2006 – Chea, 36, worked as a construction laborer in Phnom Penh. “I don’t know when I became HIV-positive but we were both tested in 2005 during Hom’s pregnancy.”

“I am on anti-retroviral therapy but now I have TB. At the moment I am too ill to work, though I am slowly improving and want to work again,” said Chea.

Normally he earns roughly $US7.50 per month.

Making ends meet

Hom brings in a small income by recycling rice bags into ropes for leading cattle.

It is labour intensive work and she manages to make 100 to 200 ropes per month, which sell for $US1.50 per hundred.

“Both our families sold their land and cattle in order to pay for treatment and food for us,” she explained.

After giving birth to their daughter, Hom required blood transfusions which finished the money completely.

Reflecting on the future

“We have nothing except our healthy baby,” she added. The baby’s grandmother, Nob Nem, is visibly upset as she contemplates the family’s future.

The baby is her first grandchild and she has spent much time with her while Hom was ill.

“We are accepted in the village. Whenever anyone needs anything we are there,” Nob Nem says.

The family relies on Partners in Compassion, a local non-governmental organization for assistance.

The package of care they receive includes a food ration from WFP, which helps ensure that the TB and anti-retroviral treatment that Chea and Hom receive is as effective as possible.

Ethiopia: Tsehai Tesfaye

My name is Tsehai Tesfaye. I’m 37 years old and come from a very poor family.

I have never worked other than being a sex worker. Any guy who would pay me for love was welcome. This was how I earned a living.

As I was going out with different men, I was often sick with sexually transmitted infections.

Poor health

I have a feeling I got the virus from the one man I fell in love with. The guy was handsome, had a good job that paid him well.

We had a decent life for some time. But I started getting sick, so we separated.

Three years ago, I was tested and told that I am HIV-positive. Now my health is sporadic. I have an aching chest, a sore throat and a cough.

In this clinic where you found me, there were some 30 of us who were taking treatments for HIV.

Surviving

Most have died and the few of us still alive survive thanks to the Community Based Integrated Sustainable Development Organization.

I’m also receiving food. Thanks to the organization, I’m receiving 30 kilo grammes of wheat and some cooking oil.

I’m actually well fed and am not induced to go the other way to earn a living.

Family infected

I head a family of nine, seven of whom are my children. Three in the family – my youngest daughter, my brother and myself – are living with the HIV virus.

My youngest daughter was almost always sick and losing weight. So I took her to the health center where they told me the reality. I think she got it from me.

I’m doing my part for my 20-year-old daughter to prevent her from falling into the miserable life I led.

Young as she is, I’m advising her to be careful in her life. I don’t know to what extent I’ll be successful.

Good nutrition vital

Now I see one big problem. If I fall ill for a longer period of time, that may force my three young kids to look after me, which will eventually affect their schooling.

I openly tell to all I have the virus in my body and advise them they should be watchful not to be infected.

I even warn those who have the virus that they should eat nutritious food as much as possible so they live longer.

When I don’t eat well, the illness becomes worse; all my body becomes full of rashes. Had it not been for the food I am still getting, you wouldn’t have seen me talking to you now.

World Food Programme 

12
Sep
07

HIV Comeback: Young Gay Men in New York

The New York Daily News is reporting that HIV is making a comeback among young gay men in NY.  New cases have increased by a third in those younger than 30 and doubled among teens in the past six years, health officials said Tuesday.  “In 2001, there were 374 new HIV diagnoses among gay men younger than 30; last year, there were 499, a city report said. In gay males ages 13 to 19, cases increased from 41 six years ago to 87 last year.

“A generation of men is growing up having not seen their friends die of AIDS, and maybe having the impression that HIV is not such a terrible infection,” Frieden said.

Unless they practice safer sex, he said, “We will face another wave of suffering and death from HIV and AIDS.”

Gay black and Hispanic youth are most profoundly affected by the growing number of infections, with 81 of 87 new cases last year occurring in those groups.”

I think that young gay males should look to the examples of their gay forefathers in the 80s who championed HIV/Aids activism.  They gave HIV a face (Unfortunately that has now become a stigma and assumption).  They took up the cause when it was not popular or chic.  They watched their friends die and did something to keep others from getting infected instead of standing idly by.   These young gay men in NY will have to be the ones to take up this cause a new if there is going to be a change, and if the trend is going to lessen.