Another post that is not about water.
It's no surprise that there is a problem of HIV/AIDS throughout the continent of Africa, and Tanzania is no exception.
Between 5 and 6 percent of the population of Tanzania is infected.
An estimated 150,000 Tanzanians were newly infected with HIV in 2011, which is over 400 new infections every day. In the same year, 83,528 Tanzanians died from AIDS.
Women in Tanzania are particularly affected by HIV and AIDS. In 2011, women comprised nearly 60 percent of people living with HIV.
This blog post is not about HIV/AIDS. This post is not about safe sex. Those are important topics, but that is not what I am going to talk about. I'm going to talk about using gloves. Yes, gloves.
An estimated 1.5 million people die every year from HIV/AIDS.
One of the individuals who died today was a former employee of the office where I am completing my internship.
Quiet, hardworking, but we didn't talk much. Twice we ordered lunch together, but N was much more patient than I and liked to eat at 2 or 3 pm; I can't hold out on food for that long.
N was let go a week an a half ago because of some job-related mistakes.
Immediately, N's health deteriorated and N was hospitalized. While the family named various illnesses, because of the stigma and denial that shrouds HIV and AIDS, it was obvious what the real killer was.
As I was contemplating the reason for such a heavy stigma, I listened to the conversations of the people around me.
"If only we had known..."
"I would have..."
"Maybe I could have..."
"I never even..."
Kinder words would have been used.
Patience would have prevailed.
Invitations to dinner would have been offered.
N would not have been let go. There would have been understanding, more time, flexibility.
If we knew N was sick.... but, with numbers like 6%, there is a good chance that people we meet every day are infected with HIV/AIDS.
The guys I play soccer with. The person at the store. My motorcycle drivers. The girls I volunteer with. The waiter who serves my coffee. Someone squished beside me on public transportation.
In First Aid training, they teach you to treat everyone as if they are infected, because you never know. From children to grandmas and everyone in between, if you respond to a bleeding victim or consider doing CPR, protect yourself first with proper precautions; gloves, mouth shields, etc.
The same with working with people in the justice system; there is a higher concentration of people infected with HIV and AIDS who are in conflict with the law because of risky behaviors. We are trained to treat everyone as if they have an infectious disease.
You use latex gloves with everyone, you don't take any chances.
But instead of latex, I'm suggesting that we use kid gloves with everyone.
Kid as in the soft, expensive leather for fancy gloves. What you touch with kid gloves you treat carefully. You recognize as precious, valuable.
Your worth is in your humanity.
I should treat everyone with kid gloves.
I should treat everyone with kindness.