Saturday, July 26, 2008

Classes in HIV and Photography

9 July, Wednesday

This morning attended a two-hour class on HIV/AIDS and ARVs, given by Getrude (that's how she spells it)—in the local language, Tumbuku. A few giggles when she whipped out a wooden phallus to demonstrate how to put on a condom. But the class was very attentive and interacted well.

In the afternoon, I interviewed Brenda Ngoma and Monica Mwale of the ARV clinic. Plus got another antenatal women's group to sing what I'm starting to think of as the prenatal song. Will have to get someone to translate it for me.

Monica said that the oldest person they have put on ARVs so far is 65 or so, the youngest was 1 year and nine months. I noticed Ellie Click's name and cell phone (doctor from Baylor Pediatric AIDS clinic in Lilongwe) on the wall and ask Monica about it. Monica says Ellie came to Embangweni for four days and has been in touch since. Whenever Monica has a question about children and AIDS drugs that she can't answer, she calls up Ellie.

Other notable things from this morning:
1. Flip chart to teach about AIDS with a kind of stylized warrior with a shield no longer being able to defend against the arrows from smaller red bad guys. ARVs are like the army or police. They put handcuffs on the bad guys but they don't kill them (to make the point about suppression not cure.)

2. They make the point that people with HIV should sleep under bed nets to prevent malaria. But although the ARVs are free, the bed nets for HIV patients are not. Only pregnant women's and kids under age of five are eligible for free bed nets—and there's even some question about whether kids under age 5 are still eligible for the government program.

Monica travels by bicycle 8 km every day to and from home to the hospital. Eileen is teaching me how to pan a shot of Monica on the bike so that the background blurs but Monica and the bike are in focus.

(NB: This post was written on site in rural northern Malawi and posted now that I again have internet access.)

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