Knowledge of Good and Bad

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15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden…

This morning, i read the story of my good friend Sam Agona lamenting the new war of Northern Uganda – the Sex War – but the thing that caught my gasping attention was the mention of  young gals who are facing the sexual front, with multiple partners, and using unsafe means, under the illusion that HIV will not kill them, if they have access to the right drugs.

This notion is galvanized, in part by Noerine Kaleeba‘s TASO Service Center in the bustling northern city, once the safest haven from the marauding LRA. Opened in 2004, the center operates in the heart of the Northern Uganda. During the time of insurgency, most of the population was living in Internally Displaced people’s Camps. The center had to offer services in a camp setting. With more people living in small grass thatched houses and associated poor living conditions, there was high HIV/AIDS prevalence in the region.

The Center is awash with Services, Counselling, HIV Testing, Medical, Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Programs, Social Support, even PMTCT – a supermarket of Health Services.

From Sam’s recent experiences, it seems there prevalence is still high, “…rate of 22 per cent within Gulu municipality alone – almost four times the national average (7.3 per cent).” I find it equally bizarre that 15 to 20-yr old are turning to sex for pleasure – an indication that perhaps the social systems are falling apart. Why are they not in school? Why are some not working? They are not just having sex for money, its the widest Sexual Network you can think of – in a zone that is recovering from an equally hellish past.

This is the most intriguing part, that the knowledge of where to find information about contraception and HIV treatment instead fuels behaviors that would otherwise be brought to an end. What is it about humans and the moment we eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge? What is it that draws us to the bad – yet God promised the knowledge from the fruit would be about the good and the bad?

To twist this a little, what is bad about pleasurable sex if you can find contraceptives readily, and have been elaborately told there is life after the virus? My own organization, EGPAF works to bring an end to Pediatric HIV – and is actively involved in monitoring the progress on the HIV Vaccine –

“It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but something we haven’t understood about how HIV interacts with the immune system has been uncovered with this research,” said Jeff Safrit, Director of Clinical and Basic Research at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF).

Scripps scientists presented detailed blueprints of how HIV interacts with the immune system last week at the American Crystallographic Association Conference in Hawaii. The hope is that the research will break down many of the existing roadblocks to creating a successful HIV vaccine.

“An effective HIV vaccine is like a holy grail for many scientists,” Safrit said. “Pursuing that cause is enough for a lot of individuals, even with all of the setbacks over the years. It’s one of those problems that no one has been able to solve, which makes it difficult, but it makes the scientific reward that much better.”

You have to wonder, what will the “night commuters” do, if the HIV Vaccine got to their preferred TASO Center? Will there be a sex rampage like never seen before?

Does Knowledge (about alternatives and treatments) actually lead to increased promiscuous behaviors? Sadly YES – This Study does report increased sexual activity in areas where mHealth interventions were done in developed countries. Why? Why are empowered communities choosing what we don’t expect them to choose?

17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

5 thoughts on “Knowledge of Good and Bad

    Daisy said:
    August 9, 2013 at 9:42 am

    If people think that the right drugs will prevent HIV from killing them, what happens when the cure to HIV/AIDS is discovered? This really scares me too, thinking of my own life, my beliefs about HIV and what these people believe in. It shows how much the HIV talk has not been taken seriously in the country and the need for much more effort need in HIV/AIDS awareness. It also makes me think that as years go by, the less serious people think of HIV. Am left with 2 puzzling question in my mind, ” 1. Is HIV taken seriously?” “2. What’s the impact of all HIV focused NGOs that have existed since the 90s?”

    carol said:
    August 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

    To answer you marzma, people generally don’t fear what will not kill them tomorrow….
    On the whole, I think the fuel for this scourge is multifactorial, people are poor, women cant negotiate for safe sex when they are not empowered,people in the rural areas don’t have much to look forward to etc, in the North for example, the war did fan the flames as people were in congregate settings with not much else to do and not really sure that they will live to see tomorrow hence the risk taking, I mean a bullet kills faster than HIV, so right now the North is ‘reaping’ from the years of hell…terrible but true, guys were contained and have now spread out and this is now a bush fire, with not much effort to curb it.
    There is also a generation in the North that has not been ‘parented’ they have watched the atrocities and are fearless
    People need to be kept school, working etc….

    marzma said:
    August 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

    My take is yes moral decay will increase, I mean we have seen it with the introduction of ARV therapy and treatment… my question is simple…if you know that fire is hot and will burn you, why then do you go ahead and touch it? In as much as we have all this information doesn’t it then beg for us to exercise good judgement and a little common sense?

    John said:
    August 5, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Thanks Brian,
    My take on this is that the formally traumatized people and region of Acholi is beginning to come into terms with the rest of the world, the case in point is the recently opened transit goods route to South Sudan which comes with a new and dynamic mode of HIV transmission, the Truckers who have a well documented evidence of causing HIV epidemic in regions they operate in East Africa.
    What buffles me is that didn’t the HIV advocate and programs working in that region anticipate this?

    Frank said:
    August 5, 2013 at 8:03 am

    It is true we are hunting the AIDS cure like lice but i am sure once we get the cure, the moral decay that will come with it is one that we have never seen before.

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