It was a Saturday afternoon and the radio was on. I was living in Uganda in the fall of 1996 and the winter of 1997. The radio was calling out a list of names. I could not understand why.
I asked my aunt why the radio was calling out so many names. She said they are calling out names of people who have funerals; most of those people had died from AIDS she had told me.
I was shocked. Were there really those many people dying from AIDS in Uganda? The name calling went on for hours. One name repeated after another.
I guess it was true. The day after I had arrived in Uganda, I was over at my cousin’s house. She showed me one of her wedding photos and there were about eight people in the picture. She said that five of the people had already died from AIDS. She cautioned me not to have intimate relations with anyone I would meet while in Uganda.
The statistics are shocking and growing. There are more than 30 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world. About half of these are women. These statistics come from Worldwide AIDS and HIV statistics. More than 25 million have died from AIDS since 1981. Imagine…
Those people could have found a cure for cancer. Those people could have found a cure for AIDS. Those people could have come up with a work of art that would have stirred the souls of millions. Those people could have written a book that would stir the souls of millions. Those people could have been in the Book of World Records for being the best soccer player. They also could have simply lived, loved life and enjoyed raising a family, as well as working and contributing to the world’s economy.
The travesty of AIDS is enormous. The spread of it mainly comes from a lack of education. While I was in Uganda, some people thought that you needed to be gay to get the disease. They did not believe that having unprotected heterosexual relations could result in transmitting HIV. These thoughts even came from people that were training others in understanding how HIV was spread.
Efforts were made though. While doing a story for YTV Canada while I was in Uganda, I followed an organization that would go to schools and use bananas to show students how to put on a condom. Condom use was low at that time, however has grown since.