The narrow view

Yesterday I was a tourist in my own city. I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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Narrow boards, girders and gaps: Sydney Harbour Bridge, seen from below.

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Transition

Can we transition to a world that’s free of HIV?

With investment in health promotion and HIV prevention, and political commitment to protecting the human rights of the communities most affected by HIV, it just might be possible. We are certainly closer to ending HIV now, than we have ever been before.

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This billboard popped up at my local station the other day, encouraging men who have sex with men to test regularly for HIV. In Australia, they are the population group most affected by HIV. Continue reading

Dancing in the face of death

These days, in Australia, it’s rare to go to the funeral of someone who has died of AIDS. It’s now almost two decades since combination therapy turned the epidemic around, and as effective treatments are rolled out across the world, the number of people dying of AIDS is declining even in poorer countries. 13 million of the 35 million people living with HIV are now on treatments and the death rate has dropped by 35% since 2005.

It’s possible the end of HIV and AIDS is now in sight, but 1.7 deaths and 2.1 million new infections in 2013 show that there’s still a way to travel on that road. For some communities, the grief and loss that I experienced in the early 1990s, when I was losing friends to AIDS, are raw and real and happening right now.

Yesterday people all over the world lit candles to remember loved ones who’ve died, and to raise awareness that HIV is still with us.

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Shadows, stars and bones

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to look over a radiographer’s shoulder while he did a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of someone’s thigh. It was fascinating. You can see wafer thin layers of flesh, blood vessels, bone and cartilage as clearly as if you had sliced through with a knife. Only in black and white, therefore less grisly.

So when my rheumatologist wanted me to have an MRI of my right wrist and hand, I was quite excited. It’s not often you get a chance to look inside your own body. Continue reading

The cost of ebola

This week the small West African nation of Guinea will not be celebrating its 56th year of independence on 9 October, because of ebola. Large public gatherings are not a great idea right now, and then there’s the cost, at a time when Guinea’s economy is taking a massive blow from the disruption caused by the disease. Tourism, mining and infrastructure construction have all ‘ground to a halt’, and President Alpha Condé says the country will need considerable financial support to make it through the next few months.

Here’s some Guinean music from happier times: Mory Kanté with the supremely danceable Yeke Yeke.

Guinea is said to have the rate of ebola infections more or less stabilised, so if they’re struggling economically, you can imagine the devastating economic impact of ebola on neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia, both only recently getting back on their feet after civil war, and with potentially catastrophic infection rates. Continue reading