Weekly Commentaries

This is Sunday Chronicle's weekly commentaries on various issues of interest affecting the country. All individual commentators are done by elite Papua New Guineans from diverse educational backgrounds.

Friday, January 15, 2010

HIV/AIDS and its many tales

COMMENTARY - 'Small Man Issue'


'End of the world will be such that man will die from civilisation'  - Ralph Emerson Waldo.

WELCOME back readers and followers of Small Man Issues as we look forward to a 2010 filled with maybe less small man issues and mega achievements. Sincere apologies for not bringing forth our issue at hand last year as I was also touched by the festive fever to go on a three weeks self proclaimed vacation. How ridiculous for someone who has unrestricted working hours. Hopefully, the LNG will spill out some spin offs for people like us.

Well, if you're worried about my new year's resolution it is 'make every day the feeling of Christmas'. For all of us, an ending is a beginning in itself. Thinking that HIV/AIDS was a bad dream that disappeared at the dawn of 2010 only interprets itself as a nightmare. We'll find out come December 1, 2010.

The subsequent paragraphs you will be reading are not to discredit the hard yards put in by many selfless individuals and organisations alike. Some statements and phrases may sound offensive or discrediting, apologies for that, but they are purely my views as an attempt to see things differently in order to stimulate our thinking for a more effective answer. No one can claim that their method of addressing this pandemic is the way forward because no drugs or cure has been identified yet.

It is not my intention here to go into the technicalities or the performance of the virus in PNG. The message has been spread and every day we are showered with the awareness campaigns. You find condoms everywhere. Millions have been pumped in and by now rural dwellers are scared to the bone of a disease they claim to be a curse from God. Ignorance or adaptation, we will find out.

However, it is always advisable that we define firsthand the terminologies surrounding the subject before we dwell on it to give us some ease. Ok, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) which is the disease. There is no cure yet though drugs like ARV (Anti Retroviral) drug helps to slow down the progress of the disease so infected people can live longer. You can visit the internet, a doctor, or any experts on the subject to give you a lecture on its compositions and genetics. For our case understanding its make up will do no good because we are already in the midst of a 'hell fire'. We should rather be talking about how best to slow down the spread or eradicate its existence totally.

Adaptation is a human characteristic. For instance, if there is a foul smell emission from a nearby factory over time we become accustomed to it and all is normal. Likewise, when HIV/AIDS first reached our shores and picked up momentum it was news. Now that we are in crisis state all seem to be normal because it is everyday news. We have learned to live with it. Should we have taken proactive measures by quarantining all infected victims we wouldn't be managing the crisis today.

The greatest human desire is sex. In the field of psychology it is termed libido or sexual power. To bring this sexual desire down to a manageable level you must possess a lot of will power. The two primary tendencies of human behaviour are Sigmund Freud's (Psychoanalyst) sex and Karl Marx's (Capitalist) materialism. Just do a simple mental calculation of your daily behaviour and smile to yourself. The media, internet and material wealth have all contributed to this sexually active age. Humans are sexually active beings but never outrageous unlike this moment in time. OK, behaviour is a stimulus-response act. There is no behaviour without a stimulus. When the desire is strong the performer does not care whom he is involved with and how he does it. All talk of positive living and safe sex can wait for tomorrow.

If we are very religious we can lay claim that our behaviour is all about worshipping God. Amen for that! After reading stories about Pastor and Clergyman involved in acts of fornication I praise God that we are only being human. Hypocrites cannot change a population's mindset because we all are playing the same cards.
Religious fanatics and many fence-sitters alike have claimed AIDS as a curse from God to show His anger over man's sinfulness and defiance over His commandments. But, if God is always good how can He send a plague down on the people He loves so much? So, this is never a curse from God. We have only ourselves to blame. With God whatever diseases and illnesses we encountered since man walked upright on this earth had cures. Say, with malaria from mosquito bites there was chloroquine from a shrub. Nature equated itself. It is the marvel of creation. Is HIV/AIDS a marvel of creation? Maybe God wants us to realise Him and turn to Him. Faith cure is more spiritual and belongs to God alone. The answer is in your Bible.

Reinforcement is either a reward or a punishment with the aim of altering behaviour accordingly. We are not punishing people who contract the virus as a message to others that any infected person is an outcast. Instead, we reward them with condoms to ply their trade. Condom is like a visa to travel anywhere in the world. We also provide free counseling and places to stay with message of families to take care of the sick. It only encourages more sex. We only need to remove this reward and apply punishment to establish the correct behaviours. Let people die like nobody's business so we can have a little goose bump in the back.

Freedom of choice as one of the cornerstones of democracy has given us the outright choice to choose what we like. Our partners are our choices. Likewise, the government does not come right into your home and tell you what to eat or whom to have sex with. After we have contracted HIV/AIDS we run to the government seeking refuge. Yes you can be a productive citizen of this country but you have chosen your destiny. Monies that should be pumped into infrastructural developments have been spent on looking after dying people. Humanitarian work on people who have brought disrepute to themselves is a case of no concern. In doing so we are telling the people, "don't worry it is OK to get AIDS because we will look after you. How productive is an infected person on the job who knows that he will die any moment?

The recent announcement by the United Nations to cease its Global Fund's HIV/AIDS support for PNG has a reason. Cause and effect if you like. Global Fund has been providing funding for ARV treatment for the past 15 years in PNG. My suspicion of the pull out is there does not seem to be reduction in the number of infection. That tells us one story and that is monies earmarked for fight against HIV/AIDS have been mismanaged. Now the government will be tasked to look after the 7000 plus people currently on ARV treatment. Imagine all of them being some productive elements of the society what would be left of the gaps they'll create. The government must use this opportunity to take some bold stands regardless of what the world thinks. The world has its own agenda to worry about and so have we.

HIV/AIDS was first made know on December 1 1981 in the United States after some gays fell ill and were taken in for testing. Scientists then traced the origins of HIV to a type of chimpanzee in West Africa. How it got into humans, as claimed, was through blood contact from hunting. The common story we heard in the early eighties was man had sex with a monkey and that was how HIV/AIDS came to be. Sounds like a legend were people tried to put in bits and pieces together to trace their origin. In trying to piece the clues together many will agree with me that HIV/AIDS was created. It was a laboratory foul play. There are number of fitting claims to confirm this. One day this truth will surface.

Rather than pursuing a story that is all a beer talk I would like to challenge the status quo by suggesting some measures that our government can adopt. Firstly, enact a law to declare compulsory HIV/AIDS testing for all citizens. Forget about what the world thinks or the human rights issues surrounding it. These are excuses or hindrances to the betterment of this nation. Declare a state of emergency and quarantine all infected people regardless of status. You can't allow one stinking banana to be in the middle of the rest. All will go bad. Institutionalise them and restrict their movements. They would be more or less in a prison kind of place. LNG can do the funding. This is the only way we will stop new cases from springing up.

By saying this I am optimistic that our government would by now start moving into guided democracy to control behaviours that are out of control.
Sex is the game
AIDS is the goal
The winner gets into the coffin.

Email me on pohromo@hotmail.com for comments. Keep reading your Chronicle for our next 'Small Man Issue' on "Naturally rich but economically poor".

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