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Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

HIV / AIDS education and counseling

Aids - don't let it happen!

Blessed Gérard'sHIV/AIDS-EducationProgramme

What are the first questions we always have?

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS? We all hear about HIV positive and we all hear about AIDS, but nobody understands why we have a difference. HIV stands for Human Immune Virus. That’s the little virus that gets into your blood that makes you sick. O.k. AIDS is what you get. It’s Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and that is what you get as a result of having the virus in your body. O.k.? Acquired means that you get it, you get it from somewhere else. Immune is something in your body that is fighting disease. And that in your body that fights disease is the White Blood Cells in your blood. We have red blood cells and we have white blood cells and the white blood cells fight disease for our body and that is called our immune system. And a deficiency means a lack of; it means you don’t have enough white blood cells to fight disease and a syndrome are the signs or the symptoms of having the sickness and that’s where AIDS comes from. It comes from having the virus in your body.

I put a poster up here with different people on it. Would anybody like to try and guess which one is HIV-positive and which one has AIDS? Ladies, which one do you say has got AIDS? … No one? No one? Really? In Isithebe where we have got 88% AIDS rate, HIV rate? … Nobody? Which one? This one? … Why that man? … He’s going thin. I think, he has got sunglasses and he is cool. I think you made it out, that we can’t tell. You can’t tell by looking at a person whether or not that has HIV. So, let’s not criticise people if they are thin.

Let’s not criticise people if they have TB, because that’s not a sign that they have AIDS. It might be, but it’s not a definite fact.

AIDS is like a imvubu. AIDS is like a hippo.

All you see is that little piece on top of the water there and the rest of it is hidden away from us, and that is the problem with HIV that we actually don’t see it. It’s hidden away and we don’t talk about it and that’s why so many of us are positive. We need to talk about it, we need to get that imvubu out of the water, we need to bring him out into the open, we need to talk about HIV/AIDS.

That can't be enough, that we just theach them sewing. We also must teach people to care for their own health. Because, if they are sick, if they cannot work, because they are sick, it is also not good.

And so we said: Now we must start to do something that people keep themselves healthy. And what we are going to do that is to make courses in basic health care. And first and foremost there will be a programme to tell people how dangerous a sickness is, which is calles AIDS and which is spreading round in our area in a terrible way.

A doctor from Ngwelezane Hospital told me: It's round about 10% of the population, who are carrying germs, it's actually a virus, in themselves who causes that sickness. It takes some 10 years to develop, but then they all die. And so we must do something that people don't get sick with this sickness, which we call AIDS, and so, what we are going to do in this community development centre is to give courses to tell the people how to avoid that terrible sickness, which kills so many people.

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