World AIDS Day - Africana Cry
Today, CBC News reported that the country believed to have the highest rate of HIV infection, (about 38.8% of its adult population) had cancelled all AIDS Day events. A royal decree was issued, saying that the events would interfere with a month-long traditional ceremony. What a shame that not a single day could be given towards increasing HIV awareness, AIDS prevention, and safe sex, when day after day after day, thousands are dying.
This country is Swaziland. According the to the CIA World Factbook, Swaziland's population is 1,173,900.
This means that 455,473 people are infected with the disease. That is 455,473 individual souls. This also means that hundreds of thousands of children are facing the prospect of becoming child parents, forced to look after younger siblings when their parents succumb to AIDS. It's a crying shame.
Many years ago I was mistakenly diagnosed with having HIV. It was a terrible, lonely time of my life. I read everything I could about the disease. The more I read, the more symptoms I seemed to acquire. Finally, after many tests and months, the results came back negative. (Which is good.)
This experience has made me more aware of what people feel like upon hearing that they have been exposed to the HIV virus. I drew upon the experience when I created a work called AIDS Antiphony: Call and Response. This work was featured in the eZine Spoonfed : Amerika.
The Call is composed of images of myself which are reflective of the sense of isolation I witnessed, and suggests the notion that life is indeed temporal and yet, utterly ephemeral.
The Response, in this work, is evident in the titles of these collage works: "Tears of AIDS in Africa", "When Babies Die of AIDS", "Waiting For Results", "Death Leaves Me Cold," and "Homophobia is a Killer Disease."
The CBC also reported that:
"The United Nations says more than half of the 40 million people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, live in Africa.The spread doesn't appear to be slowing down, either, with 3.2 million of the 5 million new HIV infections recorded in 2005 showing up in Africa."
It is a human disgrace that there is not enough political, corporate and humane will to wholeheartedly and fiercely face AIDS and HIV in the so-called Third World, although some people, such as Stephen Lewis, are helping to bring the Western world's attention to the problem of AIDS in Africa. His book, "Race Against Time" is a must-read.
I wrote the composition Africana Cry as an outpouring. It is a plaintive cry because what is happening in Africa is a crying shame.