Saturday, December 01, 2007

Concerning Epidemics

Today is World AIDS day so i'm dedicating this post to all the orphaned children living with AIDS. Be it promiscuity or infected needles - its them who suffer the most. The theme for this year is

Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise - Leadership

I cant help but see the irony when I think about the 'shower incident' in South Africa. I did a masters level course a few years ago where we critiqued current AIDS awareness campaigns - the thing is - 94 percent of South Africans know the dangers of HIV AIDS. Its the behaviour change aspect that's the hard part. The logical solution would be to stop sleeping around, but who listens. I'm truly stumped.

Muslims need to join in as well. I know that there is some Muslim related AIDS conference on at the moment (maybe nooj can fill us in on whats happening - represent :) but for too long we as Muslims have this 'its not a Muslim issue' approach to AIDS. And you know what - the more we isolate ourselves from the problems in our country, the more alienated we become. We're quick to jump when we want a new mosque built or when America invades a country, but why are we so silent on issues that don't have a sectarian packaging. Its our country as well. Its time we played a more prominent role in South Africa, and not only in the economic field.


whats your opinion on your spouse getting an AID's test before nikkah?


bb_aisha said...

We interviewed the co-ordinator of the conference,and fatima has been filling me in. Will let nooj elaborate though. I've always-since i was 17 or so-said i'd want my husband-to-be to have an hiv test. But suddenly i think, shouldn't the person who wants to marry me voluntarily disclose his status? and if he isn't aware,then at least we'll both know together. Will i still marry the person? that's a question one can only answer if in the situation. But if i say yes to marriage,it means the person truly meets my expectations, so i don't think i could just walk away if he's hiv positive..but it would also depend on how he contracted the virus. If he had a skanky past,but has reformed, i think i can live with it. If he lies, then no. Hopefully,none of us will ever have to experience this

SingleGuy said...

This is a question I've been asked before, and honestly, it's a difficult one to answer. Although, if I was asked for an HIV test, I'd gladly do it, becuase for one, I hope I'm clean, and in my profession there is a risk of contracting the virus after coming into contact with bodily fluids. I just hope that the question is broached sensitively, and the issue should be between the couple only. The whole confidentiality and disclosure issues. Say you're positive, who are you going to tell? The whole world shouldn't know my HIV status. Also, an engagement broken off for unknown reasons shouldn't cause speculation that one of the parties is HIV positive. I think if it's a concerning issue, then the tests should be done before the proposal is accepted.

Nice on MJ....lot's of question marks on this issue...

Zahera said...

Excellent post and completely agree with you that muslims need to show interest and become proactive in issues such as these.
As far as asking spouse to take the test- inshaAllah anything about his past would have been discussed and decisions of pursuing anything will be based on whether i am happy with what i know. I wouldnt ask him to take the test though. Id appreciate honesty more- says alot more about your relationship to begin with.

r said...

my mom has already informed me that any future prospective husband must take an HIV and drugs test - along with me. SG brought up quite a few issues that i hadn't considered before.

r said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The only reason 'its not a Muslim issue' is the way AIDS is spread. Mainly unprotected sex. Sharing needles... uhm what for? certainly not at the doctor. Getting poked (isolated incidents) maybe.

Thats why Muslims isolate themselves. If majority of Muslims contract the disease via adultery, then by accepting it as a "Muslim issue" we are accepting adultery as the norm. Just because its the 21st century does not mean we should. Yes, AIDS is being spread at an alarming rate, but whose fault is it? (I am not talking about women who get raped or people who end up getting it under unusual circumstances).

Also by asking your spouse for an AIDS test before marriage - doesnt it speak volumes about his/her character? Why was he/she sleeping around to begin with?

I know there is a place in Durban for Muslim families with HIV / AIDS. At least someone out there cares, which I applaud. Its not even most of them's fault that they're stuck there.

Nooj said...

Hmmm i was a mere minute taker so for the complete picture of the conference check out

At the same time Muslims need to accept the reality and obtain workable solutions to deal with it. Using a condom to have sex with your HIV positive spouse is different from using one to prevent getting knocked up etc etc.

Damn, this disease is fascinating in a tragic way. It opens up the doors for us to do so much good and by that I do not mean condemning HIV positive ppl to Jahannam in our Jumu'ah khutbahs. It raises interesting issues related to zakah and polygamy and caring for the ill and fatwas and gender.

Our mistake was that AIDS accepted Muslims before Muslims accepted AIDS.

M Junaid said...

BB - thats quite admirable - i dont think i will do the same in that situation. i dont think it makes me selfish. i dont know

SG - i agree with you. it needs to be approached confidentially. You know how some parents like to see a bank balance before giving their daughter away (it happens) I think the person you are marrying has a right to know your status because it wil affect them (assuming you do what married people do - i.e shag)

Zahera - take off those damn rose coloured glasses - 'Id appreciate honesty more- says alot more about your relationship to begin with.' We all want honesty my friend, but people lie, and this is one lie that will end relationships (in five to ten years depending on availability of ARV's)

R - Drug test hey - that rules out most Orient Boys :P

Anon - thanks for the comment, but i disagree with what you say. I believe that it is a muslim issue because we are supposed to be vicegerents. We need to stop thinking of islam as a religion, and realise that it is a solution for humanity (to steal Peace TV's slogan)It might not be a muslim issue in the statistical sense, but it affects my fellow Africans, so it has become my responsibility to fight as well. It is not becoming of us to condemn someone due to their promiscuity, but surely we can offer support or education or a model for better living. Allah is most forgiving and he judges, and who can tell me that I am more beloved in his eyes than a man who slept around and contracted AIDS? no one. I am not condoning promiscuity whatsoever.

"Also by asking your spouse for an AIDS test before marriage - doesnt it speak volumes about his/her character? Why was he/she sleeping around to begin with?"

I am a virgin, but I will marry a girl who is not a virgin, I will not condemn someone for a mistake of theirs. Due to the medical nature of AIDS its better to be sure. Please note that this is a personal response, and i dont expect it to be taken as a rule of thumb. we are all flawed and i'l overlook any shortcomings of my future wife if she has made sincere taubah, and i wish she would overlook my shortcomings as well. why were they sleeping around in the first place - 'Allahu alaam'. thats between them and God. It only becomes my problem when i'm married to her and she sleeps around. we can discuss this further. please comment again and forgive me if i have missunderstood what you wrote.

Nooj - I love your closing statement. Man, my head is full of ideas for 'muslim t shirts'. can you imagine this one - three days?, ten days?, fourty days?. each one below the other in larger font. OK - it sounds cool in my head, most things do until i say them out aloud.

Anonymous said...

Good on you for fighting for your fellow Africans, it is commendable. I personally think if I had to go out and do it, it wont make a difference. As you say in your blog - 94% know the dangers, so with that large percentage, why aren't they being proactive? Its easy to all say "lets stand together and make a difference" but in the end, its up to each individual to take precaution before sleeping around, Muslim or not. If I sound somewhat harsh, it is the reality.

Yes, you're right, it is only Allah that can judge a person who sleeps around.

If I had a (Muslim) friend like that, I would offer support etc but if he/she isnt willing to change, then I would end the friendship.
"Beware of company you keep, because a person is considered to be of the same belief and religion as the company he keeps. [Abu Dawud]"

"I am a virgin, but I will marry a girl who is not a virgin" - Easier said than done. If you're in that situation only, then will you be able to answer. If and when you are [I hope not], then give me an answer. (I've also commented on certain subjects but when I was actually in that situation, I reacted very differently).

SingleGuy said...

Damn, Noorjehaan, that last statement of yours is quite brilliant, it will go down in the annals of great quotes.

Let me relate a story of muslims and HIV from my workplace. I once saw a very ill boy with chronic lung disease, who was Somalian, his mother was in her 40's and the dad had 2 other wives. My colleagues in my team(all white), suggested that we do an HIV test on the child, to rule out AIDS as a cause for his lung disease. I suggested that they would never get permission to test the child from the parents as they would feel insulted by the notion that he might have HIV. Long story short, the parents consented without issues to my suprise, and the child tested HIV negative, thankfully.

Then on another occasion, with a different child and mother and even hospital, but still Somalian. A young Somalian mother to be, was admitted to the hospital where I was working one weekend as the Paeds on Call. She had refused any form of antenatal care or testing and she was hours from delivering her baby. Part of the routine antenatal screen provided by the government is testing for Syphillis and HIV in mothers to be. But one needs consent to test for HIV, not for Syphillis. The Obstetrician on Call then instructed the Sister do the test for Syphillis at least as one does not need consent for this and it is potentially life-threatening for the child. The Sister misunderstood, and did both tests. Both came back positive. And we could not give her the result because she refused consent for it.

So NOW, we sat with the dillema, that this infant had to be treated for Syphillis, which we could do, BUT also needed prophylactic Antiretrovirals to reduce the chance of contracting HIV, as well as advice on not breastfeeding. With proper treatment, you can drop the vertical transmission rate from 30% to 4,5%. This child did not get that chance, because I exhaustively counselled the mother on doing an HIV test and she still refused. I then counselled the father to push her to do the test, and although he was understanding and tried to get her to test, she still refused.

That child might have been saved. But now we'll never know.

Muslims need to get over their AIDS phobia, and stop living in DENIAL. I couldn't give a shit about the adults who do as they please and play with their own lives, but they have no right to play with the lives of their children.

(BTW, on a different note Noorjehaan I know you, and you know me, but you don't know that you know me, and if you do realise that you know me, you'll keep that knowing to yourself, right?)

Sorry for hijacking the blog MJ, but every so often you blog about about something I feel strongly about.

Sofi said...

conversely, would you do a HIV/AIDs test if your potential partner requested you to?

there was a story in the paper here recently that there is an increasing ignorance on HIV and proportional to the number of people being infected. but among the immigrant communities, since sex is so bloody taboo getting to discuss HIV/AIDS etc would be even more difficult. 'we' generally like to brush our problems underneath and hope they'll go away dont we.

as for your qn: i would probably ask a potential to do a test but there is a risk theyll be offended or refuse to do one. unfortunately and honestly speaking, if it was an arranged marriage scenario and the test proved positive, i would most likely not go ahead with it. however, if it was with someone i chose to marry from the outset, then i would have major issues and would perhaps employ the 'i'll marry you but separate rooms plz! rule. either way, i guess i would want to know about the other

Anonymous said...

trust MJ to come up with these questions :P so much for a light-hearted blog :P


however, i feel the same as sofi and bibi-aisha in this.

Unknown said...

yea, tests should be a pre-nikkah formality!

Zahera said...

SG: excellent post and i agree with you. Its sad that the adults are unwilling to address these issues which can be so detrimental to their child. Its a case of living in denial and not willing to accept that such a concept even exists!
The case you mentioned is a very sad one and it really does make you wonder what happened to that innocent child.

MJ: its not about wearing rose tinted glasses. Im not trying to deny that AIDS is an issue that muslims need to address and accept- and im not even saying that if my potential/partner did have AIDS that i would have an issue with it. I think im just going to be very honest and say i dont know how i would react. Its difficult when you havent been in the situation yourself and cant really comprehend such a thing happening to you. All i meant by the honesty comment was that no i wouldnt feel comfortable asking him to take a test even though it could be lifechanging if indeed he had lied to me, because id feel like i was insulting him. This is just my take on it- i have no problem with people who think its a great idea and something they see a must before making their decision. Different things work for different people (like you not having an issue with marrying a non- virgin;i would. Thats something thats important to me and i would simply like to believe that there is such a thing as honesty and that people can be straight up about things without thinking that they will be judged).

bb_aisha said...

I'm working on HIV stories within the Muslim community for a fellowship I'm part of, & now Special Assignment is interested in me doing a story for them.

I'm trawling the web, & came across this post. I have to admit I was surprised by my comment-didn't know I was so open-minded then:-) I don't think my views have changed though..

I liked discovering this blog post-great that you blogged about it.