Conquering the Crisis
Concluding and Last Impression (Entry 6)

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa isn’t merely just a large group of people who do not have access to contraceptives or take part in an overly sexual culture it is much more complex than that and to be honest I believe really beginning to understand the epidemic and the people it affects can help to change peoples perspectives of not only developing nations but specifically this epidemic. I think the major problem in developed nations like the U.S., are not exposed to the true realities often enough to actually begin to comprehend just how severe the epidemic is and the long term effects it has on the people of SSA. The other problem is the way the information is presented to people in developed nations, for example, most of the time you have to go researching about the AIDS epidemic and once you’ve done that the information can be hard to sort through, understand, and often times people have a hard time even beginning to relating to these experiences they are reading about. So, because of this I would like to include this website because it can compare two different countries. So, I put into the generator U.S., and Swaziland because it currently has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world and this is the comparison:

If Swaziland were your home instead of The United States you would…

  • Be 43.5 times more likely to have HIV/AIDS
  • Have 10.9 times higher chance of dying at infancy
  • Have 4.3 times more chance of being unemployed
  • Die 30.27 years sooner
  • Have 96.1% more babies
  • Consume 95.3% less oil
  • Use 92.51% less electricity
  • Make 95.52% less money
  • Spend 95.54% less money on health care
  • Experience 12% more of a class divide

If this does not begin to put it into perspective I am not sure what will. Often times I think people forget that we do not earn or have anything to do with where or what country we are born into. Just because we were fortunate to be born in the U.S., which is now a developed nation does not mean we are superior or that we should have the power to deny other humans the access to the necessities of life and general human rights. Just because you are not infected or because you and the people you personally care about do not live in Sub-Saharan Africa does not mean you can blatantly ignore the problem at hand or decide that it is not your problem because it is. I strongly believe that we have a huge moral obligation as fellow humans to help others who are suffering needlessly. My reasoning for believing we have a major obligation to help others is because your decision to be consciously aware and be apart of the solution is the difference between life and death for the people of Sub-Saharan Africa. The people of Sub-Saharan Africa are not to blame for the epidemic they are currently facing ultimately, they should be seen as victims and to convince yourself otherwise or allowing yourself off the hook because it is not your problem is nothing less then going along with the genocide that is occurring. If at this point in this entry you are still wondering why this matters I’ll tell you. Human life is being lost and undermined. Furthermore, I believe we have developed a habit of thinking our life is more prestigious, superior, or worth more then other human life and that is why I am challenging anyone and everyone to reevaluate their moral ideologies and the way they view others. There is not a hierarchy of people who are more deserving of basic human rights or the basic necessities of life and if you think there is it is time for you to reexamine your ethics, compassion, and perspective of the world and it’s people around you.

Fieldwork/Ethnographic Research Methods (Entry 4)

         As the second drafting process began I was really focused on finding scholarly journals that expanded on my idea of vertical and horizontal planning, the underlying causes of the epidemic, and how the epidemic affects people of all ages not just specifically children. Luckily for me there has never been a shortage of articles or journals on this topic but the biggest challenge is sorting through all the information and finding journals that will really help construct and shape my arguments. After a period of time with a lot of reading I have finally sculpted my paper in the way I find it to be most provocative and honest while using complementary journals to add depth and perspective to my arguments. One of the major new ideas I found while researching was the idea of how implementing western ideas on confidentiality and medical solutions has a very different outcome in developing nations and how the difference of an individualistic culture versus a collectivistic culture can have extremely different outcomes and success rates. I had never thought of how confidentiality specifically could affect developing nations so differently because it could be the result of life or death or infection or not. But people in developing nations are too scared to tell their partners or loved ones that they are infected because they are afraid of them leaving them so instead they say nothing and the virus is passed on. It was a very interesting viewpoint that I had not questioned yet.

         As for my fieldwork I felt as though my survey was most successful. When I originally posted the survey I thought nobody would do it but to my surprise 68 people completed my survey leaving me with a lot of quality information and perspective of people who do not spend their life researching public health issues like I seem to enjoy doing. Throughout a lot of the questions I got a lot of diversity of answers but then there was a similar trend throughout the entire thing as well, which I found intriguing. It was hard for me to not get upset when reading the responses because someone responded to the question, “what do you believe would be the most sustainable and effective solution to try and help rid Sub-Saharan Africa from the epidemic they currently face” with saying, “impossible. That’s a problem that can only be handled by them. Natural selection taking its course.” And although I realize that people can and will have differing opinions it made me realize that I needed to incorporate in my essay that I recognize that not everyone beliefs we have a moral obligation or any obligation for that matter to help developing nations but it is important that we try to understand their realities because I don’t think any of us have the power to deny human life.

            If you are curious to take a look at my survey please feel free to do so you can find it here,

            I started off by asking background questions like, “how many people were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide in 2012” or “in 2012 how many people in specifically Sub-Saharan Africa were infected with HIV/AIDS?” to gain a better understanding of peoples knowledge on the epidemic before getting into the more in-depth and intense questions. I then wanted to see how often they heard about the epidemic whether it be in the media or from a friend because I personally do not believe that these world problems are talked about enough and the severity of them are not expressed. Over half the people said that they either never hear about the epidemic or maybe hear about it once a year. This was honestly devastating to me and just reinforced how important it is for me to try and spread the world and educate people on what is really going on. I then asked if people believed that the U.S., had a moral obligation to help Sub-Saharan Africa and I was happy to see that 84% of the people who took the survey said yes. Finally, I asked, “What do you believe are the biggest contributing factors to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in SSA” and “what do you believe would be the most sustainable and effective solutions to help rid Sub-Saharan Africa form the epidemic they currently face?” Although these questions are different I received similar responses with both that they ended up relating the two together. Just about every person went on to say how we need to provide contraceptives and how unprotected sex was the biggest cause of the epidemic. I am not sure whether or not this idea steams from our own health classes as we were growing up because the teachers emphasize how unprotected sex can lead to the spread of HIV but it led me to want to challenge this stereotype in my essay that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is much more complex then many people make it out to be.

Reflexive (Entry 5)

I originally registered for English 201 because of the fact that it was a research based English class. Throughout my writing career I have always found myself to be much more passionate about my writing when I was able to do in depth research along with my own personal commentary. From the very beginning I knew I wanted to focus on a topic that could further my knowledge in the field of study I am hoping to pursue so I could use this information again. Being someone who is pursuing an undergraduate degree and then a masters in Global Health with a minor in individual and family development it only made sense to focus on the region of the world I am most passionate about, Sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, I have always had an interest in learning more about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the root causes of it. So, as a result it only made sense to pursue this topic because 1) it would provide me with new knowledge but 2) it would help me to better understand the people and the culture I am trying to help and 3) it would be useful for the future as I plan to become a Peace Corp volunteer for Sub-Saharan Africa working specifically with this epidemic.

Taking a philosophy class last quarter really opened my eyes on what obligations we have to helping others so I decided to add this interest of mine into this research paper as well by trying to reason what moral obligation the United States and other dominant countries have on helping developing nations. Throughout the free writes in this class is where these ideas began to develop, but I would have to say the most significant change that developed during a free write was when I decided to incorporate the idea of ethnocentrism and cultural incompetence as the reason foreign aid is not as effective as it should/could be. I hadn’t considered involving a political demographic to it but after reading the foreign policy plans from the U.S., for Sub-Saharan Africa I knew it was a must. Overall, I don’t think my original plan for this research paper has differed very much from the final product because I am very strategic and like to thoroughly think through my research before committing to a topic. Although, my overall idea did not vary that much I have taken the time to try and go very in depth about the epidemic and the key terms I have used. I also tried to find very effective evidence to strengthen my arguments as well as incorporate a philosophical and humanitarian perspective to hopefully open the reader’s eyes to other viewpoints and ways of looking at this epidemic. The last small change I made was making less of an emphasis on this epidemic affects children and trying to broaden my scope and realize that it affects all people equally just differently.

Throughout all my research I think the most interesting piece of information I discovered was that although we tend to focus specifically on how this epidemic affects the children it is also crucial that we realize the long term and long lasting effects this epidemic has on every individual for the rest of their lives. I found several research studies that really start to portray and go into depth about how elderly people are still dealing with painful realities as a direct consequence of this epidemic. This made me revise my paper slightly to make sure I emphasized the importance of recognizing every individual’s realities in sub-Saharan Africa and to not undermine adults or elderly peoples experiences just because we believe the children are most affected. Everyone is equally as affected just in different ways. Lastly, when I conducted my research I asked the question, “what are the largest contributing factors to this epidemic” when almost every single person said the lack of birth control/condoms I realized that I really needed to focus my paper on challenging that stereotype that unprotected sex is the only cause of this epidemic and really attempt to show people the complexity of this epidemic. 

Post Counter/Alternative Perspective Essay

 (Entry 2)

At the beginning of writing the Counter/Alternative Perspective Essay I was confused and bothered by how we had to choose a different perspective and I was not sure what the purpose of that was.  I then ended up just trusting in the process and I had a major epiphany one day in class, which was the negative impacts, that ethnocentrism has on foreign aid or creating sustainable solutions in developing countries. This idea evolved into how western ideologies or solutions cannot be adapted into developing nations because they will have very different outcomes because our culture relies heavily on an individualistic perspective whereas Sub-Saharan Africa has been founded off a more collectivist culture. In the end I am basically concluding how it is essential that we reevaluate the way we see this epidemic and shift our perspective to a more humanitarian perspective. Another epiphany I had was using Tzu to demonstrate how it is vital that we begin to understand the people and the cultures we are trying to help. That if we begin to view this epidemic from the lens of a local (in the best way we can) we will be able to most effectively help these people to help themselves. Tzu goes on to state that we need to go to the people, use their resources, learn from them, and when the job is done the people will say they have done it themselves. This whole idea promotes independence and the use of resources and materials that they have available to them which would most likely promote long lasting solutions.

When I began writing this paper I attempted to construct it in a way that I would be able to use the majority of the information for my final essay, which pushed me to focus my thoughts and find effective research that I would be able to use again. For the synthesis essay I almost used my entire alternative perspective essay but I particularly used the main points that I stated in the alternative perspective essay. For my synthesis essay I followed your advice and began to expand on the main points I covered in my previous paper. I also feel confident that I expressed how these terms are interconnected and attempted to create a continuous flow of information throughout my essay. I have also tried to adopt more signal phrases and concrete and specific transitions and statements. I find that being concise and that sometimes saying less can lead to a more organized paper as well as it gets my voice across to the reader because I have to think very hard about what personal commentary I want to add to my essay in addition to the scholarly sources I use. Overall, I tried to define key terms and present the truth of the epidemic to allow the reader to gain a more holistic view of what is occurring and the people that are being affected by this harmful and relentless epidemic. I tried to be the voice of these people whose realities are not always told or even heard of. 

Linking and Synthesizing Ideas (Entry 3)

My three Vignette Terms for the synthesis essay were:

  • Vulnerability and the Life Course Approach
  • Deterioration of Foreign Aid
  • Vertical planning

          First off, I chose vulnerability and the life course approach because I don’t think you can look at the impacts or begin to understand the HIV/AIDS epidemic without addressing the harmful, lonely, and scary realities that the majority of these people have to experience. I think you need to step back and reflect because we are so used to seeing numbers and statistics about HIV/AIDS but you need to allow yourself to see this epidemic as more then numbers. You need to see it for what it is which is the extreme vulnerability of all individuals who are currently facing this terrible epidemic. You need to start to see the epidemic as people because I believe that is when your perspective will begin to shift and your opinions will begin to change. I also incorporated the life course approach because most people including myself have a natural tendency to only think about the negative impacts on the children of SSA. But in reality we need to recognize that this epidemic affects all ages and will continue to affect them throughout their life and even before they are born.

          My second term was discussing the deterioration of foreign aid. My purpose here was to demonstrate how viewing this epidemic and trying to formulate sustainable solutions using a first world perspective will not give us the results we need. Recognizing that we are different and attempting to learn and understand the people we are trying to help I believe, would be one of the most beneficial things we could do. Also understanding that implementing western testing, solutions, or other methods will have a completely different result because we are a individualistic culture while the people we are trying to help have their views shaped off of a collectivist culture. In short, we need to understand the people and the culture before we can effectively help them to help themselves.

          Lastly, I used vertical planning for my third term. The purpose of using vertical planning was to break the stereotype of the AIDS epidemic just being a direct consequence of condoms, birth control, or a overly sexual culture. I wanted to challenge the idea that it could be many different factors including, poverty, famine, illiteracy, lack of medical care, rape, the inferiority of women, and the lack of support and counseling services. And that we often times blindly think or say that it’s their fault that they didn’t use protection or have many partners but we need to shift our perspective to see them as victims of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and understand that this epidemic is an epidemic of poverty and famine.

          All three of these terms mesh together to demonstrate how the epidemic has led to Sub-Saharan Africa to not be able to develop socially, physically, academically, financially, and politically. And why they have a growing dependence on other countries. They all have an overlapping theme of reevaluating our beliefs and thoughts about this epidemic and really attempting to understand it for what it really is. And intertwined amongst all of this I discuss our moral obligations to help people who are not getting their fundamental needs met.

My outline for my final research paper:

  1. Lead
  2. Thesis
  3. Peter Singer “Child Drowning” scenario
  4. Moral Obligations
  5. Vulnerability and the Life Course Approach
  6. Deterioration of Foreign Aid and how the implementation of Western HIV/AID testing resonates very differently if removed form the country of origin.
  7. The harmonizing of vertical and horizontal planning and demonstrating that this epidemic is due to many different factors and key health determinants.
  8. Conclusion

**I attempted to make my synthesis essay as close to my final research paper as possible to alleviate stress or poor quality writing as the deadline approaches. I hit the page limit requirement for the synthesis essay and for the final I will be revising what I already have and incorporated one or two more sources.

The Essential Questions (Entry #1)

Since a very young age I have always been interested in attempting to understand the world and it’s people. As an individual who is pursuing a career and undergraduate degree in Public Health I have a keen interest in physical, social, educational, and economic development of developing nations and the affects this on the people, specifically, the children. A life goal of mine is to join the Peace Corp after college and hopefully travel to Sub-Saharan Africa and work on improving and creating sustainable solutions for the Aids Epidemic they are currently facing. Having this goal it only seemed logical to dedicate this class to researching and getting a better understanding of something I am so passionate about.

The essential questions I have been researching throughout the quarter are: 

  • How does the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa impact the children of Africa emotionally, socially, academically, economically, and physically?
  • Does this epidemic affect adults as much as it affects kids?
  • Can this epidemic be one of the causes of the lack of economic and physical development in Africa?
  • How does the HIV/AIDS epidemic affect the future and vulnerability of these children?
  • Does this epidemic lead to a large number of children becoming orphans?
  • What are some of the contributing factors to this epidemic?
  • How many people every year are infected with HIV?
  • How can we deal with the core problem rather then just repeatedly solving the acute problem (vertical planning)?
  • What is the history of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa?
  • What are the possible solutions to help manage this epidemic and create sustainable and long lasting positive effects for SSA?
  • How does foreign aid from specifically western cultures play into this epidemic?
  • What types of solutions are western cultures implementing into Sub-Saharan Africa? Are they successful and non-ethnocentric?
  • Why have there not been any sustainable solutions to this epidemic thus far?
  • Does the U.S., have a moral obligation to address this epidemic and help?

My paper ultimately seeks to allow people the opportunity for even just a split second to view this epidemic from a different lens or a perspective. My goal is to provide the reader with a more holistic viewpoint and to momentarily shift their perspective from an individualistic and first world view to a humanitarian perspective which would ultimately allow them to begin to understand these peoples realities and the moral obligations we have to help them. 

I also use this paper as an opportunity to challenge the status quo and stereotypes we have about developing nations, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. For example, thinking it is simply a direct result to not using condoms or other forms of birth control, or that this culture is just very promiscuous or uneducated. I am trying to reevaluate the real underlying causes of this epidemic and how we can restructure our views, foreign aid, and planning in order to create sustainable solutions that would have long lasting effects.

My thesis ultimately seeks to use a multi-dimensional approach to demonstrate how cultural incompetence/ethnocentrism, the lack of harmonizing vertical and horizontal planning, and the increased vulnerability of Sub-Saharan Africa’s people has led to the deterioration of social, physical, economic, political, and academic development in Sub-Saharan Africa. I came to this conclusion pretty early on as I read through the scholarly journals. It occurred to me that brushing off this epidemic as a consequence of this country being too sexual or uneducated about condoms or birth control is ignoring the complexity and the truth of what is actually happening in SSA and furthermore allows people to write it off as something that does not affect them or is not their problem. But the truth is it is our problem because by ignoring the truth we are allowing genocide to happen. I understand the shock value of that statement but we do have an obligation to at least try to allow ourselves to begin to understand the true realities these people are facing and by ignoring their suffering we are condemning what is occurring. Human life is important no matter where you are, where your from, what you’ve gone through, or what you have accomplished and I don’t think any human being has the power to deny others the rights to the basic necessities of life.

If you would like expand your knowledge on AIDS activists, hear a personal memoir, and learn more about the AIDS epidemic please feel free to watch this incredible Ted Talk.

There is no wealth but life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest numbers of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest, who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others.
- John Ruskin (via observando)


People living with HIV often face stigma and discrimination. Ko Tin Than lost everything when people found out he was HIV-positive. It even led to him stopping his treatment for a while. 

The fight against HIV/AIDS has been hailed as one of the most successful public health projects in human history, but MSF medical teams see the revolution as unfulfilled for millions of people excluded from treatment. Go to to learn more.

I am not using strong words; I am using appropriate words. This is genocide.

South African Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, on a campaign by pharmaceutical companies to tighten patent controls over HIV drugs. 

In an interview with the Mail and Guardian he also called the plan “satanic.”

(via nprglobalhealth)