The first reported cases of AIDS were back in 1981 in the USA. Doctors had come across a rare set of symptoms which included: pneumonia (caused by a parasite called Pneumocystis carinni), cytomegalovirus infections, thrush and Karposi’s sarcoma (a rare form of skin cancer). The patients that were suffering with these symptoms were all young homosexual men with limited immune systems.
Soon after this over in central Africa doctors were treating patients with a new disease that also undermined the immune system and caused diarrhoea and weight loss, namely “slims disease”, however these patients were all heterosexual. The causes and modes of transmission were not yet known. In 1983 it was discovered that this disease was caused by a virus, known to be LAV (lymphadenopathy – associated virus) and HTLV – III (human T cell lymphotropic virus type III). In May 1986 the virus was renamed HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Two viruses are now associated with AIDS: HIV – 1 and HIV -2. HIV-1 is associated with infections in Central, East and southern Africa, North and South America, Europe and the rest of the world. HIV-2 was discovered in West Africa (Cape Verde Islands, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal) in 1986 and it is mostly restricted to West Africa.
HIV-2 is similar to HIV-1, but HIV-2 is less pathogenic than HIV-1, and HIV-2 infections have a longer latency period with slower progression to disease, lower viral counts and lower rates of transmission
The primary aim of our Walk for Aids is to raise money to fund 3 volunteers travelling to Africa to work for two weeks in a orphanage for children living with HIV/AIDS. These are children whose parents have died of AIDS related illnesses.
80% of children who are HIV positive in the world live in Africa and we want to do something to help not just by raising money, buy donating time and gaining experience which we can use to help in the fight against AIDS.
We believe that the experience of working on this project will be transformational. Many of our young volunteers have never worked, not because they do not want to, but because there simply are not enough jobs in Hull or because like too many young people they have no qualifications. Some are from families where they are part of a third generation that has never worked, while others have faced discrimination and rejection because of their gender, sexuality or simply never got the chance of a decent education due to bullying and intimidation at school.
But all of them want to change that and we think that giving them a chance to travel and work with children far more disadvantaged that they are will inspire them to greater achievements. There will be no free rides: everyone travelling to Africa will have earned their place through their volunteering efforts here in the UK and will be expected to use their experiences when they return to help us to continue our campaign to raise awareness of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
This will be a very moving experience for our volunteers, it is certainly not a holiday. They will assist in taking care of the orphans and giving them the individual attention they desperately need including:
- Teaching the children basic English lessons
- Reading children's books to them
- Playing games, singing songs, and doing drawings with them
- Helping refurbish the orphanage buildings
- Helping to cook for and bathe the orphans
They will also be involved in AIDS awareness work by visiting local schools and community centre to
- Explain what the HIV/AIDS virus is and how it affects the human body
- Educate people about how the virus is transmitted and how infection can be prevented
- Explain how, after infection, life can be prolonged through medication, healthy food, and a more health lifestyle.
In preparation for the trip we will be teaching all volunteers about HIV/AIDS and helping them to work with communities and schools here in the UK to communicate the same messages. There is still a great deal of misunderstanding and myth in the UK. 25% of people who are HIV positive do not know they are infected because they have never been tested.
Our help in donating to this project will make a real difference It will inspire young people to change lives both here and in Africa, and most importantly the impact of your donation will continue to have a real effect long after the initial Africa Project.
Please click on the link to the right and donate now to help tackle this global problem