Monday, 25 August 2008

Social Inclusion extra

Before the programme
When in Southampton, I volunteered for Hampshire Deaf Association. Deaf people can be excluded from the rest of society because of problems in communicating. General society makes the assumption that its population can hear, so information tends to be portrayed with this in mind. However, 1 in 7 people living in the UK have at least some degree of hear loss. This has an impact in all walks of life, including school, university, work and in service provision. HDA aims to include deaf and hard of hearing people in the general society using a variety of services, including:
  • Interpreting services,
  • Raising awareness of businesses and employers,
  • Activities for hearing children of deaf parents and/or deaf children of deaf/hearing parents,
  • Services for students - interpretation, notetaking, lipspeaking
  • Training in BSL.
Ribbons Centre & THT
Both of these charities work with people living with HIV and AIDS. In the UK, the prognosis for people living with HIV is good, as thanks to anti retro virals and the accessibility of a good diet, people are now likely to be able live reasonably healthily. However, there are still problems for people living with HIV. People have to live with the stigma the general population has about HIV postive people, both to do with the assumed ways they contracted it and what they can do. THT is campaigning to try and quell this stigma, and the bring about change. The Ribbons Centre in Southampton and THT nationally also provide services for HIV positive people, including counselling and advocacy.

During the programme
Team 69
We are a team of 9 UK and 9 Syrian volunteers. We come from a variety of different backgrounds. Our main languages are Arabic and English. We all have different communication styles. For decisions to be made to include everyone, these 3 things all have to be taken into account. When we're making decisions all of the discussion should be translated so that everyone can understand what it is going on. Even people whose native language is being used in decisions might not feel included in discussions if the more confident members of the group talk amongst themselves. Because of this, most of the time Team 69 operates a system where if someone wants to speak, then they raise their hand and people tend to be allowed to speak in the order their hands went up. This doesn't always work when there are decisions to be made quickly, as sometimes the discussion can go between a handful of people. This is however an exception to the rule, and I feel on the most part we make decisions in a fair and exclusive manner. Occaisionally since coming to Aleppo, a few decisions have been made in Arabic then the decision has been passed on to the UK volunteers in English. This isn't really inclusive as it means the UK volunteers can't take part in the decision making process. However, this makes me wonder if at times we did the same kind of thing in Glasgow, as although the Syrian volunteers are better at English than we are in Arabic, if we talk too fast amongst ourselves then it is difficult for them to understand.
Some of our CADs has included an element of social inclusion. Physically and mentally disabled are normally excluded from general society because of their disability and because of stigma from society. Through our CADs, we have attempted to include disabled children by playing with them. Other CADs that have had an element of social inclusion have been:
  • The clean up in Govan (which included members of the community who were asylum seekers, a normally socially excluded group),
  • Painting of the mosque's fence (this was with an inter-faith organisation, who includes people from a variety of religions).

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

HIV & AIDS and Poverty and Inequality

HIV: Human Immunodeficiency Virus

AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

In the UK, and the rest of the developed world, the prognosis for an HIV positive person is quite good. With the advent of effective Anti Retro Virals (ARVs), someone being diagnosed as being HIV positive now has a good chance of having a normal life span and leading a normal life, side effects from the ARVs and stigma aside and dying with HIV rather than of an AIDS related illness.

This is not the case in the developing world. There, an HIV positive has a greatly reduced life expectancy as they are likely to develop AIDS (where the T-cell level reaches below 200 or a person develops an AIDS related illness) quickly.

The difference isn't only in how individuals suffer from the virus/syndrome, but how many people are infected. Take a look at this top 10 of HIV prevalence:

RankingCountryPrevalence rate (in 15-49 year olds) %
4South Africa18.1

As you can see, all of the top 10 are countries in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), and for the next part of this topic, I shall attempt to ascertain why this is and what the impact of this is.
As Sub Saharan Africa also contains most of the poorest countries in the world, I was tempted to assume that there was a direct link between these two facts. There are also quite logical reasons as to why this would be the case, as poor people are less likely to be able to afford contraception, less likely to be able afford to go to school to be educated about HIV prevention, and less likely to be healthy enough to not contract the virus when they come into contact with it. However, after some research, I found that this apparently isn't the case. Although when poor people living in SSA come into contact with HIV they are more likely to be susceptible to it, they are also less likely to come into contact with. This is because wealthier people are more likely to move around more and have multiple sex partners. There is apparently evidence to suggest that there is a link between high economic inequality and HIV prevalence (perhaps caused by rich men paying poor women to sleep with them).
Where poverty has the most impact is in the survival rate and provision of care of those with HIV. Poor people in SSA aren't provided for by the state. They can't afford to eat healthily and more often than not the water they have access to is dirty and is likely to make them ill. This means that once a poor person becomes infected with HIV, their immune system is not able to fight the virus and they get sick really quickly. ARVs don't come cheap and there are not many doctors available in most SSA countries, so there is also little care for those with HIV.
Having HIV is likely to impact people's ability to work. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, if they develop full blown AIDS, they are unlikely to be well enough to work. Secondly, if an employer finds out that they are HIV positive they are not likely to employ them, and there are no laws preventing discrimination in the work place to help them.
Most of the people who die of AIDS in SSA are of a productive working age. This is catastrophic for SSA's development. This leaves dependents, both orphans and elderly people behind to fend for themselves. For orphans this means that they are unlikely to be able to go to school because they have to go out to work. This makes it likely that they to will not get the education they need in HIV prevention.