Friday, April 24, 2009

I just found out yesterday about a company that sells home-based HIV-screening kits where the test is self-administered and the results are given in a similar way to home-pregnancy tests. (Information about these tests are available at: Here's the thing: this company is a South African company. The tests can be shipped to the US (no additional costs), so they are discreetly available here in the US.

The fact is this: In many countries - ranging from sub-Saharan Africa to western Europe - it is possible to buy home-based, self-administered HIV-screenings, but here in the US, it is not easy to buy these things. Here at home, the message is that people need counseling to go with testing. While I certainly understand that there is a need for supports and for information about available services for those who get a positive on the screenings. My question is: why do we need these extra things more in the US than in other parts of the world. There is a cynical part of me that says this is just part of the institutional turf of HIV/AIDS services, and the more that people are told that getting an HIV+ result is traumatic, the more it becomes a reality.

Ultimately, if we are to be serious about stopping the spread of HIV and we want to have all people know their status, we need to provide a range of opportunities for people to do so. We have many pieces in place to reach out to the high-risk, but we also need to provide unobtrusive options to the lower-risk. To assume that all people need to go through a system like what we have now to get tested (either a public health clinic or a medical provider - both of whom can be intrusive and sometimes threatening despite best intentions) is erroneous.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


The Mosaic Initiative has continued to support the community development work in rural Kenya. In addition to helping with the development of the Buchifi Community Center so that it can be a fully-functional facility (currently, it is providing lunches to local school children 3 times a week), we recently sent some funds to help pay for the rent of an orphan tailoring school in Mumias. We have had a long history with Joel, a young man who lost his parents to AIDS in the 1990s, and he has had to do what he can to take care of his siblings - including a brother who is deaf. His is a story of struggle and survival - always trying to make do.

It is a constant struggle to be of assistance as best we can. We know that we don't want to do for others what they can do for themselves. At the same time, we can make such a difference with so little. Joel's rent is about $60/month for a two room facility. I'm sure many of us, just by cutting back on Starbucks, could cover this. And we are always willing to risk supporting an organization that is trying to help others, such as Joel is doing.

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