Monday, May 12, 2008
The Biology of HIV
When I came to Rhodes, I joined SHARC, the student version of the South African Treatment Action Campain, which is committed to stopping the spread of AIDS and to upholding human rights. I elected to become a peer-educator, and to become certified on how to give informational talks to peers about HIV/AIDs, and safe sex. Tonight, as part of my peer-ed training, I am going to take a class on the biology of HIV. It is a fascinating virus - it is terrifying how 'smart' it is.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a course on how ARV treatments work, and it blew me away. I had no idea that some ARVs have much the same side effects as chemotherapy - (hair loss, loss of libido, etc. etc.) or that one of the possible side effects is lactic acidosis, which can be fatal if you do not stop treatments immediately. Learning about the side effects has helped me understand partially why President Mbeki and others have questioned the effectiveness and toxicity of ARVs. Though I still don't understand/agree, I am getting a better feel for their positions, or realizing they are not completely irrational. I am excited to learn about the virus tonight.