Following our Give it a Go, we're proud to announce our first session of the year, discussing the responsibilities and possible solutions to HIV & AIDS. To participate, don't forget to purchase our yearly membership of only 10£, which you can purchase over at the LUU website: https://www.luu.org.uk/model-un/
Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is an infection that as it progresses, interferes more with the immune system, increasing the risk of developing common infections. Spread primarily by unprotected sex, contaminated blood transfusion and from mother to child during pregnancy, methods of prevention include safe sex and needle exchange programs. Though no cure or vaccine, antiretroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near normal life expectancy. From the time AIDS was identified in the early 1980s to 2017, the disease has caused an estimated 35 million deaths worldwide, with most of those infected living in sub-Saharan Africa.
The disease has become subject to many controversies involving religion including the Catholic Church's position not to support condom use as prevention. Some religious organizations have claimed that prayer can cure HIV/AIDS. In 2011, the BBC reported that some churches in London were claiming that prayer would cure AIDS, and the Hackney-based Centre for the Study of Sexual Health and HIV reported that several people stopped taking their medication, sometimes on the direct advice of their pastor, leading to a number of deaths. The Synagogue Church Of All Nations advertised an "anointing water" to promote God's healing, although the group denies advising people to stop taking medication.
Research done in South Africa, about the stigma and discrimination in communities, has found that PLHIV (people living with HIV) not only experience high levels of stigma that negatively impact all spheres of their lives, also interferes psychologically. Internalized stigma and discrimination ran rampant in the study, but also throughout the PLHIV community. Many PLHIV in South Africa blamed themselves for their current situation.
People who are HIV positive often deal with stigma, even though with the proper medication this can be manageable lifelong disease. It is now possible for a person who HIV+ to have intimate relationship with someone who is HIV- and not pass the disease to them. It is also possible for a mother who is HIV+ to not pass it to her child. In developing countries, people who are HIV+ are discriminated against at work, school, their community, and even in healthcare facilities. Discrimination may also increase the spread of HIV because fewer people will want to get tested.
Accordingly, in countries such as Nigeria, PLHIV are less likely to disclose their HIV status, due to the repercussion of exclusion of their community. "In most situations, in order to prevent social rejection, PLHIV will not disclose their HIV status to avoid being isolated from participating in the socio-cultural events." This leads to very high-risk behaviors of passing the illness along to others or delaying the proper treatment. PLHIV, when shut off from their community. can feel isolated, lonely, afraid, a lack of motivation, and identity problems. Stigma enhances the spread and denies the medical research of HIV/AIDS because the social and medical support are gone. Those individuals can no longer feel like part of society, which, as humans, we need communities to feel understood and wanted.