I was raised to think of health as a positive look at both how our body functions and how we mentally think of ourselves. In my family we tend to ask if someone is feeling healthy, this is to portray a positive aspect meaning they do not have any physical or mental disease at the time. We would also judge health based off physical appearance such as looking tired, scars present, or broken bones. We would define illness as any flaw in a person’s health, such as a disease. My family would categorize an illness both based on the actually disease (bacteria or virus) effecting them or the symptoms that are present. These definitions likely came from the environment I grew up in. This includes, but is not limited to, people from school, family, church members, and the media. All of these things together formed our definitions we use to classify health and illness, which is in part why I believe the two may have come to be so similar and interchanged at times.

HIV in my opinion should be considered an illness. I think many people in western society would agree with this based on the media’s portrayal of the disease. It has a very negative connotation and is seen as a scary thing for those whom have it and those who do not want to contract HIV. The fact that there is no known cure for HIV adds a frightening aspect for many people.

I do not consider items on the list such as old age and poverty to be an illness, but they leave our body more susceptible to illness. These two list items do not cause a person to feel worse physically but many times lead to a disease that could cause the body harm. For example an 80 year old man may feel just as healthy as a 60 year old; age is not the deciding factor.

Items such as migraines, fatigue, insomnia could also be grouped together and are what I would consider symptoms from a disease or some other underlying problem with the body. These items can many times be treated with pharmaceuticals to fix the “illness” of the body. However, I do understand that in a poverty stricken area these may not be available and thus could be seen as the only illness a person has because it can not be treated.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kelly Delorme says:

    I agree with you that HIV should be considered an illness, and worldwide, I think most people would also agree. In previous classes we have discussed the issues surrounding HIV transmission, as well as the stigma of HIV, in third world countries, so I thought it would be interesting to research HIV in Africa. HIV is much more widespread in Africa than it is in North America and there are many factors that contribute to this. I found the factors contributing to HIV transmission to be the most interesting. An article about women in South Africa discusses factors contributing to HIV transmission, including, gender inequality, gender-based violence, and high-risk sexual behaviour. Gender inequality and gender-based violence often lead to women taking a submissive role in sexual relationships. Thus, women often feel as though they can’t ask their partner to use proper protection. I think this is much different than current sexual relationships in North America. In North America women feel as though they have more say in what happens, so they feel more comfortable when it comes to insisting on protective measures. Prevention plans including promotion of male condom use, treatment of STIs and HIV testing are now being implemented in many parts of Africa. Additionally, access to antiretroviral drugs is extremely crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. According to a document by UNAIDS, Africa is currently leading the world in expanding access to antiretroviral drug therapy. Although HIV is more widely found and transmitted in Africa, it seems that Africa is doing a lot of work to implement preventative programs and to treat individuals already infected at an affordable rate.

    Jewkes, Rachel K, Kristin Dunkle, and Mzikazi Nduna. “Intimate partner violence, relationship power inequity, and incidence of HIV infection in young women in South Africa: a cohort study.” The Lancet 376: 41-48. (accessed July 4, 2014).

    UNAIDS. “Access To Antiretroviral Therapy In Africa: Status Report On Progess Towards The 2015 Targets.” . (accessed July 4, 2014).

    • Nikki Silva says:

      Kelly, a lot of the stigma surrounding HIV has also been the assumption that HIV = AIDS. Individuals with HIV can live long lives and have children, AIDS occurs when the virus destroys too many cells for your bodies immune system to fight back. I think that not fully understanding the disease has led to a lot of the stigma surrounding it, people don’t understand what the disease is or how it is transmitted.

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