HIV left untreated and ignored

About 30 percent of people living with HIV are not accessing treatment, despite evidence medications could reduce the risk of passing on the virus by more than 95 percent.

About 70, 000 sufferers in Australia could also be seriously damaging their own health by refusing or delaying treatment – just one tablet per day.

The above text was seen in an anonymous article in the Sydney Morning Herald last week. It’s funny how only two paragraphs of writing can leave such an impacting message. Since the 14th of September last year when I was flown to Nepal, the lack of media coverage and education as a whole regarding HIV/AIDS has been very evident to me. And my study of the lack of coverage over the past few months has only made this belief stronger. Through my study of HIV/AIDS in the media, I have taken notice that the coverage of this topic has come and gone in interesting patterns. The first bite of media burst being the beginning of the phenomenom in the 80’s. The disease was looked upon badly and was purely considered a “gay man’s” disease. The next spout of media coverage was the late 80’s through to the early 90’s, where advertising for HIV/AIDS was at its peak; with adds such as the Grim Reaper’s, and the coverage regarding musical idol Freddie Mercury’s death. It appeared that Mercury’s death due to AIDS sparked  the creation of a lot of fundraising and foundations. Since then though, the media has forgotten this fatal disease and have dismissed the teaching of it in schools sex ed.

I don’t think describing this as ignorance quite makes the cut. I personally think the media has overlooked this issue as it is not seen as a first world problem, it’s only occuring in countries like Africa, we don’t live there so why should we care? This outlook not only shows how disgustingly ignorant and selfish the first world can be, it also creates a fear of the unknown. The best example I can give of this fear is that of what I felt prior to leaving Australia to work with infected children and their mother’s in Nepal. I almost cancelled because I was certain I was going to get AIDS. I’m very lucky and appreciative that my father ripped my head out of the ground and taught me what school failed to.

HIV/AIDS is a serious disease that has devastatingly been the cause of millions of deaths worldwide, and shouldn’t be treaded around lightly! And not only HIV/AIDS but also other STI’s. How many detailed answers could I get if I asked people what they knew about Chlaymidia, Hepatitis or Syphilis? I bet the results would be much like those of the ones I recieved about HIV/AIDS a couple of weeks ago.

A big question I have is one for society to contemplate. Why can’t some more of the tax collected be directed to HIV/AIDS and other medical research institutes, even if this may mean a reduction in welfare handouts?  Coming from a tax-paying family, I’d feel much better knowing that some of my money would also going to people and foundations that deserve and need it.

When I applied to volunteer in Nepal I had no idea that what I did was going to impact my life in such a strong way. The work I did, the people I cared for, and the environment that I lived in has acted as not only a coming of age experience for myself, but also opened my eyes up to the much needed education that is currently lacking. This blog has acted as a way for me to voice my opinion and concerns regarding HIV/AIDS, and has deepened my desire to want to make a difference! I know I made a difference on the lives of about 20 people in Nepal; imagine the difference the world could make if we all helped in educating and treating.

I hope that through my blog I have reached out to at least one other person who can then reach out to others. Oh and remember to save the date December 1st.

If you would like to sponsor MSPN (where I volunteered) you can transfer money to:

Bank of Kathmandu

Jawalakhel, Lalitpur

A/C Name: FNC/MSPN

Current Account No: 011100053373

Swift Code: BOKLNPKA

Every little bit counts 🙂

 

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Mirrors.

Over the past couple of months I have been writing blog posts reflecting on what I have been learning in my Convergent Media Practices course. I didn’t have any expectations at the begining of the semester but I do believe I have improved and am proud of what I’ve done and learnt. I remember it took me just under 3 hours to write my first blog post, and I was so frustrated I was ready to give up right there and then. I’m glad I didn’t because I have proved to myself that I can improve and I have; it now only takes me half an hour on average to write up a post. In the way of what I’ve learned, there have been weeks where I felt I was slapped accross the face by what I was learning. There is so much out there that I thought I knew and obviously didn’t. While at first naivity seemed preferable, I am glad I now have a deeper understanding of what goes on behind the scenes, and not to sing Happy Birthday in public. EVER! Of the posts I have written, my three favourite’s would have to be “Horse Drawn Carriages and Media Evolution”, “Liger” and “Transmedia Storytelling Success!

I like Horse Drawn Carriages and Media Evolution as it was a post done in very early blogging days and my so called media “innocence” was being stripped. In this blog you can see how ambivilant I was towards the entire Convergence topic as a whole, but realized I had no choice but to take myself out of my comfort zone and just get the work done. Looking back now, I find the information I was writing about rather interesting, and the clear though unitentional ambivilance gives it a weird kind of character.

Liger is my overall favourite blog post. I had a lot of fun putting this post together and felt cool as I wrote about my Sailor Moon and Napoleon Dynamite obsessions. And the Chewbucca call at the end of the post acts as one of several cherries on top of the awesome cake that the nerd topic was. Behind all the fun and games that was nerd week though was a lot of interesting ideas and truths that had previously to me gone by unnoticed. I would’ve never thought of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates as nerds, but take away the names Apple and Windows and that’s what you’re left with. The “Coolification of Nerds” lecture did make my respect for the afformentioned and other manufacturer’s grow as I realized without these people that typically get a lot of shit for being interested in what they are, I wouldn’t have half the electronics I have now.

And finally, Transmedia Storytelling Succes. Although it was done super late, I like it as even though I had to tap into my memory to remember the lecture and readings, it shows that I have successfully learnt and remembered things this session and the growth in my work when comparing Horse Drawn Carriages and Media Evolution to this post is evident. The information in this post captured my attention as I always used to see games/movies/tv series/ books on the one series as there for fanatics, made by fanatics that typically have no life. I had no idea it was a business advantage and what an advantage it is!

Overall, I have enjoyed learning about convergence media. I’m still unsure with what I want to do with future career-wise, but I’m sure with whatever field of work I eventually decide on, there will be things I need to know that have been covered in this topic. And when I’m not using it with a job, it has definately made me think twice before buying electronics and writing things that are then being published on the big world wide web-osphere.

Transmedia Storytelling Success!

Only days before an assessment is due do I notice that I have missed one week’s blog entry. Although this is 4 weeks late, here is my blog post on Transmedia Storytelling.

“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.” – Henry Jenkins

Transmedia storytelling has become an integral part of modern society in the way stories are reached to different audiences. This is gained through the use of a single story being scattered across several channels, creating a collective intelligence and building a world.  An example of this is the Pokemon phenomenon. Pokemon has a TV series, movies, franchise cards, comics and video games, making the spread of Pokemon huge and the availability for further indulgence in Pokemon knowledge easily available. The general idea of transmedia storytelling is to expand on knowledge of a particular fantasy world and the use of several platforms means that no one consumer will know everything so they must talk about the series with other people. Continuing with the Pokemon example, with the release of newer video games came the inauguration of fan websites and blogs dedicated to the games in order for the players to share their knowledge, creating a better understanding of not only the game at hand but the plots of previous games.

Of course Pokemon isn’t the only franchise that has succeeded through heavy audience interaction through transmedia storytelling.  Since 1977 and still continuing today is the Star Wars franchise, 2009 hit movie Avatar and The Matrix world are just a few examples.

In a world that is so strongly saturated in social media, it looks like transmedia storytelling will be here to stay for a long time. When looking at the continual success of such hits like Pokemon and Star Wars to think otherwise would just be crazy.

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21st Century Misogyny.

If social media had a gender what would it be? If you think about it, it is perfectly formulated for a woman, if you abide by the stereotypical belief that women are all about relationships, cooperation and communication.  With this is mind one would think the virtual world to be overflowing with women, which in some circumstances is true, ie, 97% of Pinterest users are female. So how is it that there are still questions about there being a gender gap online?

For one second STOP. And think. Off the top of your head name as many online influential male’s as you can. You’ve probably got names like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin popping into your mind. Now, name as many online influential female’s as you can. Mind blank? Me too. Feminists would define this as an online gender gap, but I beg to differ. I’d define this as a case of men indulging in what they have greater interest in than what women do. More men are interested in computer science and engineering than women. There are no gender gaps about it. Stereotypical as it may be, it’s just like saying there are more successful female hairdressers, news presenters and fashion designers then there are men. Perhaps this is sticking to gender guidelines, but with the coming of time is the fading of these guidelines and an acceptance.

Even with this movement in place, there are still problems with online mysogyny, where pro-feminists and female media personalities are being attacked by virtual hate mail. These mysoginists seem to believe that women are worthless, with their goal being to silence women through their threats which are quite often sexual and violent.

A big problem with an internet world is the use of anonymity. Giving people the option to freely express themselves. This leaves a window open for mysogynous and other cruel comments to take place. This is not accepted in the real world and nor should it be in the cyber sphere. Due to fear many bloggers are disabling the ise of comments, filtering comments and some even deleting accounts! Surely this can’t be acceptable!

Obviously something has to be done about this, but is tighter regulations the right approach? I think people themselves need to take a different approach to the way they criticise things; like my mum always said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

HIV/AIDS in Africa

Of the 34 million people worldwide infected with HIV/AIDS, 22.9 million of them are from Sub-Saharan region of Africa. That’s 68%. When thinking about the AIDS epidemic, the stereotypical thought is Africa. Why is that so? There are several factors that lead to the bulk of the AIDS epidemic basing in Africa, in particularly the sub – Saharan area. It is impossible to conclude this question with one answer, but a combination of factors could contribute to the prevention of this disease.

Africa is well known as a poor region, with marginalisation and poverty being a growing issue and a concern. The HIV/AIDS epidemic could be seen as a result of this, but for matter of statement, a further look into the historical and geographical trends of people movement, population and slavery need to be considered.

In developed countries HIV/AIDS is seen as a homosexually transmitted disease, but in undeveloped countries, ie, Africa, the disease is primarily heterosexual, with the larger percentage of victims being young females. To this, there are several factors. The first is the cultural belief of women being the inferior; not having the right to say no. A personal example I can share is one from my Nepal trip. I was on one of the local buses getting back into the city. Being a typical lunch time bus, it was extremely crowded with little room to even breathe. It was so crowded that people were pushing up against the front of the bus. One woman was sitting close to the bus driver. Instead of politely asking the woman to move the bus driver turned around and shoved the woman out of his space. The inferiority to women was made clear. This inferiority has made it difficult for girls and women to demand safer sex and to end relationships that carry the threat of infection. Studies have shown that young women in these undeveloped regions tend to marry older men as they serve as social and financial security as well as a satisfier to their materialistic aspirations. The problem that this then presents with the HIV/AIDS spread is the increase of risk infection.

Another factor that contributes to the HIV/AIDS epidemic severity in Africa is the ignorance towards sexual health. A clear example of the difference between undeveloped and developed countries in the way of sex education is the use of well known slogans.

  

And sadly, a big leading contributor to the severity of HIV/AIDS in undeveloped countries is the lack of funds to pay for medication. Although there is no one given answer as to why Africa is so highly affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there are several insights that combined give an insight and a way in which we, as the first world can make a difference.

References

Barnett, T and Whiteside, A.(2002) AIDS in the Twenty-First Century. Great Britain, Antony Rowe Ltd.

Edited by: Gibney, L, DiClemente, R and Vermund, S. (1999) Preventing HIV in Developing Countries. Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers, New York.

Willis, E. (2011) Chapter 5: Structure and Critique: The Sociological Quest. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest NSW. pp.102 – 105.

Cultural Convergence and the Rise of the Citizen Journalist

Convergence. Can’t be denied; it’s everywhere. And there are many different aspects of it too. Cultural convergence. According to Henry Jenkins is “a new participatory folk culture…giving average people the tools to archive, annontate, appropriate and recirculate content.” Cultural convergence is the new way in which news is reaching every corner of the globe. How? Through citizen journalists. What is a citizen journalist you ask? According to Oxford Dictionaries, the meaning of citizen journalist is: “the collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the interent”. Examples? Growing up, I always got my news through my favourite tv shows Rove and the Chaser’s. Why not the news? Generally people associate the news with seriousness and sadness. The advantage of collecting news through such means as comics like Rove and the Chaser’s is they grab the audiences attention. They grab our attention by making jokes out of what we need to know. This isn’t promoting the news as a light hearted topic, it’s simply just taking it on from a different perspective.

Another example of citizen journalism is Facebook.  For example, in five days the Kony2012 campaign video had 70 million views, making it the fastest growing social video campaign to date. Through social media sites like Facebook, citizen journalism is becoming more and more simpler. The whole world can receive a message just by a click.

So who are citizen journalists and what is the problem society seems to be having with them? To put it simply, we are the journalists and the only problem that can be associated with the freedom that entails citizen journalism is the lack of following a code of ethic. But as Jay Rosen once said, “The Net Knows More.”