AIDS education talk by Mrs. Clare A. Kalkwarf D.M.

This is a verbal transcription of the original sound track of a video recording of a short AIDS talk for factory labourers at Loungefurn in iSithebe


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. Thatís the little virus that gets into your blood that makes you sick. O.k. AIDS is what you get. Itís 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 donít have enough white blood cells to fight disease and a syndrome are the signs or the symptoms of having the sickness and thatís 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? Ö No one? No one? Really? In Isithebe where we have got 88% AIDS rate, HIV rate? Ö Nobody? Which one? This one? Ö Why that man? Ö Heís going thin. I think, he has got sunglasses and he is cool. I think you made it out, that we canít tell. You canít tell by looking at a person whether or not that has HIV. So, letís not criticise people if they are thin. Letís not criticise people if they have TB, because thatís not a sign that they have AIDS. It might be, but itís 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 donít see it. Itís hidden away and we donít talk about it and thatís 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.

How does the virus kill our white blood cells?

Here we have a white blood cell and he is a big strong guy. He is looking after that man who is not yet HIV-positive. What happened, why does that man get sick when he gets the virus? What happens is this: If a normal germ like a flu germ or a TB germ comes near anyone of us who are not HIV-positive, that white blood cell is going to kill the germ and protect us.

 But if we are HIV-positive that white blood cell is not really strong enough to protect the man, The HIVirus kills the white blood cells that are in our body and so now, if we have no white blood cells we canít fight disease any more and thatís why people who are HIV-positive so often get TB and STDs.

The problem is then that this poor little man has got absolutely no protection because the white blood cells get less and less and the HI Virus grows in his body and so that man gets weaker and weaker and weaker.

For people who donít believe that the HI Virus exists I am going to proof to you now that it does:

Thatís a photograph made many many many times bigger than normal. Thatís an HI Virus that is in the body of people who are positive. And thatís the thing that kills off your white blood cells. Thatís what it looks like, thatís a photograph of it, a real HI Virus!

What is it? Itís a virus. Itís a tiny tiny little germ that you canít see. You have to look at it through a special microscope, through a special machine that makes it bigger and bigger. O.k.? And that is how this photograph was made, with a special machine. Itís smaller than the tip of a pin.

I am sure you are sick and tired of hearing how AIDS is spread. Everybody is telling you ďUse a condom! Donít sleep around!Ē We are sick and tired of hearing it from people. Ya, the men are laughing! There are other ways to get HIV and thatís this Zulu tradition. What do you call it? Ukucaba! If that herbal doctor, the inyanga, is it? The inyanga goes, he has a line of little boys there, he goes with the same blade, that little boy, that little boy, that little boy, that little boy and that first boy is HIV-positive now they are all HIV-positive, because he has used the same blade for all those children. Itís the same with the circumcision. Thatís why we must be extremely careful, right! Itís not only sex. It is sex, thatís the main problem, but itís also through what the inyangas do. Please, if you go to those things, make sure that he uses a clean blade, o.k. for each person. Donít let him come near you with a blade that has been used for another person! O.k.? Itís also passed on from mother to child. It used to be 30% of pregnant women who gave birth to HIV-positive children. It has now gone up to 40%! So those of you who are HIV-positive, or those of us who are HIV-positive please letís make an informed decision about whether or not we should still have children, at least until the government makes a decision on the retroviral drugs for the pregnant mothers!

O.k. There is a newspaper cutting [Sunday Times May 17 1998, page 12, We find the weak spots in a selection of condoms. Not one of four leading brands manages to pass all our tests] and on there one, two, three, four condoms. The SABS, the South African Bureau of Standards in Pretoria went to the shops and they bought condoms off the shelf, they took the ones that are handed out by the clinics and they did a test and more than one third failed the test. More than 30 out of 100 condoms had holes in them and you think that you are safe? Say ďAh, no problem, I can sleep around as long as I use a condom!Ē a-ah! Be careful! Be careful! Thatís a false sense of security. Itís not that a condom is absolutely safe. There is no such thing as safe sex!

The only way to be absolutely safe is to say ďNo, thank you, I donít want to sleep around!Ē Change your way of life! Thatís the only safe thing! O.k.? Condoms do help, especially if a man and a wife are both HIV-positive, because you can re-infect yourself. Every time you have sex with somebody, who is HIV-positive, you are putting more HI Virus into your blood. So you are making your life shorter and shorter. I have had couples come to me and say ďbut it doesnít matter. We are both positive. It doesnít matter if we have unprotected sex.Ē A-ah! Every time you are adding more and more virus to your blood, which means you are killing off more and more white blood cells as the time goes by and it shortens your life so much. What I ask you ladies and gentlemen, and I am so happy the men decided to come today, if you think, that you have been exposed to the HI Virus, go and have a test! People say ďwhy must I have a test? If I am positive I am going to die anyway.Ē Sure, but you can still live for another twelve to fifteen years! We had a lady came into our hospice. She had twins who were two years old. She came into the hospice to die and through giving her good food and medication we sent her home with her two-year-old twins who were not positive. She came back to us last Christmas with her twins to show us how healthy she was. Only through eating good food and taking the medication that she was supposed to take. And then we can give that lady until her twins are fourteen years old. Isnít it worth it? For those twins they have their mother until they are in their teens is really worthwhile. And so I ask you, please, go and have a test, not so much for your sake, yes for your sake, but for your familyís sake, for your husband, for your wife, children, make sure that you are there for them for as long as possible! And please talk to your husbands and wives about the problems, if you are HIV-positive you must tell your partner, whoever your partner is, please tell them!

I want to show you a picture and I was given permission by the granny of this child, because the mother of that child had died in our hospice and the granny brought the baby to us and said, ďThe baby is also dying.Ē And she said to me, ďif this childís death can have a positive effect by saving somebody, itís worth it.Ē

And this is what the child looked like when he came in. His name is Bongani. Thatís what he looked like when he came in. He was three months old.

And six weeks later this is what he looked like. He was four and a half months old when he died in my arms in the Care Centre and I am hoping that you people will please take notice of what I am saying today, that you can protect yourself, that you can protect your partner, that you can protect your family.

This page is part of "An everlasting brotherhood" - Preparations for a video film about the Brotherhood of Blessed Gťrard

World AIDS Day
Blessed Gťrard's AIDS Education Programme
No matter what ... We care! Blessed Gťrard's Hospice, Mandeni, kwaZulu/Natal, South Africa

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This page was last updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 21:43:33