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HIV/AIDS: A Visual Representation Through the Social Lens

By: Christopher Rossi

The Science of HIV/AIDS

The Science of HIV/AIDS

Summary: In this video by AsapSCIENCE, the complex microbiology behind human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is explained in a simple and understandable way. We learn how HIV is contracted through bodily fluids that flow through the blood stream, where it then targets a number of different cells. The virus mostly targets T-Helper cells, which help to fight infections and keep our immune system strong. It is explained that the virus has glycoproteins on its surface that are constantly mutating, which prevents our immune system from recognizing them, and consequently, prevents our immune system from fighting off the virus. Eventually, the virus attaches to healthy cells and uses them as a breeding ground for new, afflicted cells. Once the virus has killed off a certain number of T-Helper cells, the HIV is "re-branded" and becomes AIDS. At this point, the immune system is weak and unable to fight off infections, which is why AIDS patients are highly susceptible to contracting illnesses such as cancer and pneumonia. Consequently, AIDS patients do not "die from AIDS", but rather a disease contracted as a result of AIDS. The video is concluded with the explanation that although there are medications to treat AIDS symptoms, such medications have recently seen a drastic increase in price, and they are still not a reliable source of remedy,

Application: Although the purpose of this project is to analyze the social implications of HIV/AIDS through to social lens, there is a lot to be understood about the science behind the illness itself. The social implications of HIV/AIDS are at the end of the timeline of HIV/AIDS effects (The biological and medical implications proceed social). It is easier to appreciate the gravity of the social implications once you truly understand the health implications that the illness has on its host; that is why this video is the ideal place to begin the journey that is informing ones-self on HIV/AIDS. This video puts the science behind HIV/AIDS into "layman's terms", ensuring that almost all who watch it are able to comprehend the biology behind the illness. As I said previously, the medical and health implications of HIV/AIDS proceed the social, making this video the ideal first step to truly understanding all the effects that HIV/AIDS has on medicine, its host, and the world.

youtube.com
Kenya's AIDS Crisis

Kenya's AIDS Crisis

Summary: In Kibera, a village in Nairobi, Kenya, we meet George Neokora, a Massai elder who was the national director of SOS Children's Villages in Kenya, a program that homes orphans. SOS also fights HIV/AIDS through community outreach, education, and family strengthening programs. We learn that up to 60% of Kibera's population is living in hospitals; the majority of the patients are struggling with HIV/AIDS. It is revealed that almost everybody in the village has been affected by HIV/AIDS is some way; whether they lost a family member, friend, or have contracted the disease themselves. In Kibera, and most of Africa, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment is just another expenditure that the majority of inhabitants do not have the money to take on. A program called the Kibera Integrated Community Self Help Program offers a variety of services to those affected by HIV/AIDS. According to the group, Kiberea records the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in all of Nairobi. A woman named Jacquelyn Abundo is administering HIV/AIDS tests to the people of Kibera. Although the adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS appears to be decreasing in Kenya, people still test positive every day. According to Abundo, many people in Kenya refuse to use a condom because they refuse to accept that HIV/AIDS is an issue, which results, a majority of the time, in their contraction of the illness.

Application: In this video we learned about not only the way HIV/AIDS affects culture, but how culture can affect HIV/AIDS. This video allowed us to truly grasp the global impact that HIV/AIDS, not only medically, but socially. The illness has affected the village of Kibera to the point where it hosts 50,000 orphans affected by HIV/AIDS. And although some inhabitants stand up to the illness to fight it, we learn that a large portion of the population refuses to acknowledge the illness' existence, or else cannot afford to treat it. This video could view the issue through the political and economic lens, but the social lens permits us to appreciate to social and cultural implications that HIV/AIDS can have on a community, and on a larger scale, the world.

video.nationalgeographic.com
Kristen Ashburn: The face of AIDS in Africa

Kristen Ashburn: The face of AIDS in Africa

Summary: In this TED Talk, Kristen Ashburn tells her story of her experiences in Zimbabwe, an African country where 35% of the population is HIV/AIDS positive. Ashburn says that she was not able to truly understand the "human toll" the epidemic had until she was invited into the homes of the afflicted. She met a young orphaned boy named Herbert, whose parents died of AIDS, he was small and frail, and eventually, died of AIDS also. According to Herbert, it was too painful to lie in his bed, so he preferred to lye in his grandmother's lap. Ashburn held Herbert in her own lap, which is when she truly realized how frail, and sickly he was. Before she left, she asked Herbert if she could get him something; she assumed the answer to be a toy, candy, etc. But Herbert said slippers, because his feet were cold. Ashburn also met a woman named Joyce, who was pregnant and HIV positive. After Ashburn left Africa, Joyce had her baby, but then died a few years later. Her child, one of many, became orphaned because pf HIV/AIDS.

Application: Like the last video, this TED Talk reveals the social implications that HIV/AIDS has on people's lives, but in a more narrowed manner. Through this video, we were able to explore the lives of specific people(s) whose lives have/had been affected by HIV/AIDS. Although we were able to appreciate the gravity of the social implications the illness can have after the last video, this video allowed us to dive deeper into the lives of the people the illness has affected directly. This video was the best choice to do this "job" because it exposed us not to statistics, or facts, or reports, but to stories and pictures told by a real person. Stories about the completely, and sometimes awfully real lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS.

ted.com