Grey Strands in the Era of Red Ribbon: Are you a Victim or Beneficiary?

Edith Ingutia
Posted April 20, 2012 from Kenya

“Be the change you want to see” Perhaps the world neither little notes nor long remembers individual acts of kindness -- but people do. - Herm Albright -

There are different kinds of people in the universe that we are living in; the force of gravity has always remained through eons. In as much as we tend to shy away facts will prevail for as long as we live and die. Have you heard there are Thinkers and Doers, Winners and Whiners?

As you read through this blog today, have you ever wondered, who will you be 24 hours from now? Where will you be? What policies will affect your existence? Will the same policies be applicable as the clock continues ticking? What do you really want in life? Is your life currently all there is to look forward to?

I might sound crazy, yes I do imagine myself at 50+, will there be policies protecting me as a senior citizen, will there be advocacy messages giving voice to my needs for participation, access to information and health services. Will my digital box and other electronic devises talk about sex education, Sexual Reproductive Health and condoms? What livelihoods strategies will be applicable to enhance my ability to have regular income? Will I be a burden to my children?

Statistics are staggering and scary on issues of ageism and HIV/AIDS. Apart from being physically weak, health challenges faced by older people in developing countries are often neglected amidst a wide range of competing priorities. This is evident in the HIV field where the upper age limit for reporting HIV prevalence remains 49 years. However, the long latency period for HIV infection, and the fact that older people continue to be sexually active, suggests that HIV and AIDS are likely to affect older people. Monitoring adult deaths, particularly among those older than 50 years, has received little attention despite the fact that the proportion of older people in developing countries is expected to rise dramatically over the coming decades. The high rate of AIDS mortality among older adults highlights the need for targeted prevention and treatment efforts and research to develop a better understanding of the specific vulnerabilities facing this age group. As more individuals with HIV survive and as population aging continues, the challenge of HIV and older adults will only become more pressing.

Older people have particular vulnerabilities including lack of mobility, poor eyesight, arthritis or rheumatism that make access to aid services and support difficult .The physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse, neglect and abandonment of older people is under reported and occurs when resources are stretched and older people are perceived to be a strain on household incomes. Older people maintain traditional knowledge and survival strategies of benefit to others, for example collection, preservation and preparation of wild foods. They are often the preservers of cultural and social identity through oral history, storytelling and songs and can help solve problems and advise younger people. Even while older people contribute as holders of tradition, social change and economic pressure are reducing the status and influence that older people have in the household

The high incidence of old age poverty and vulnerability makes a strong case for public policy responses to support living standards in old age and ensure adequate protection against contingencies. Demographic, social, and economic transformations are responsible for significant and rapid change in the sources of livelihood and protection in old age. Recognition of the social and economic contribution of older people in is essential to ensuring formal and informal sources of livelihood and protection complement each other, especially a recognition of the social and community work performed by older people using a gender based approach.

Age and death are inevitable as we advocate for policies that affect us as young people let us also remember each passing minute our body cells are aging. Therefore, as you enhance your knowledge on current affairs bear in mind to utilize your energies to prepare for a future where we are able to continually discuss HIV/AIDS with our grand children without shame.

Comments 1

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Usha K.C.
Apr 23, 2012
Apr 23, 2012

Dear Imbo, I enjoyed reading your article. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful article.

keep it up sis.