W1 Activity: HIV

For the definition of health, I stated it as the maintenance of the physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing that allows one to achieve their desired living without these factors as barriers. Most of the criteria I used were from societal understandings and media and developing the idea of health with my own experiences. I know in my life, I have been told that I am inherently “unhealthy” due to a family history of hypertension on the paternal side and diabetes on the maternal as well as body weight, yet I have neither “illnesses” and work out, eat “healthily” and live without any barriers to the life I desire to have. For the definition of illness, I used it in relation to my definition of health; that illness is the long or short-term disruption of one’s good health and that can or cannot be resolved. I slightly changed my definition after the W1 Activity because I had so many of the themes that fell in the gray area, in particular, poverty, spirit possession and HIV. Like health, I used the same criteria for that determination that were society, media and my personal experience.


HIV was definitely a gray area for me because of the treatments available that can help people long “healthy” lives even though there is no cure. If treated early, illness will not impede on one’s life physically but psychologically and emotionally, that really depends on the person and the effect the overall experience has had on them, their families and loved ones. Poverty was another one that was difficult to place as the definition, although seemingly concrete, may differ from person to person. My definition of poverty may be the lack of resources to sustain adequate living standards in America but will be different in my home country where the livings standards are lower. Spirit possession was slightly less of a grey area for me because (in my opinion) it is based on one’s cultural and spiritual beliefs. I was raised in a society that is quite religious and but also has strong ties to traditional Shona beliefs in ancestral sprits and omens. With the additional investment in modern science in my studies, it is difficult for me to determine if it is an illness, part of health or neither.

One thought on “W1 Activity: HIV

  1. HIV definitely is a very complicated illness and holds many issues (especially because like you said, there is no definite cure). Since it can start out very subtle and undetected, the biggest issue isn’t getting treated, its getting tested in the first place. In third world countries and rural areas, it is especially hard to get treated for a number of reasons. Either the stigma associated with HIV scares people off or they just don’t have access to it. The stigma around HIV is based off of where the illness can be acquired. In South Africa (the country with the biggest epidemic), the culture is more conservative so they look down upon people infected with HIV. Over there, HIV is associated with sex, drugs, and poverty. Those who are HIV positive are either men who are sexually active with men, female sex workers, drug users, and children who either acquire it from their mothers or from being forced into sex. Homosexual men have been said to be very against disclosing their sexuality to healthcare workers, thus making their access to testing and treatment very difficult. Sex workers have limited education in safe sex practices, but there has been an increase in trying to spread that knowledge. Vulnerable children have limited access as well. In recent years, however, there has been a giant movement towards trying to make testing more available to the South African population. An example of strategy is having mobile testing units being able to reach rural areas where it is less likely for those people to get tested.

    “HIV & AIDS in South Africa.” HIV & AIDS in South Africa. Accessed May 23, 2015.

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