How disheartening is it that one of the most exhausting aspects of my internship is trying to counter the false misconceptions of Africa that people from back home have. The other day I was asked, ‘Aren’t you afraid to hug the children, doesn’t everyone there like have AIDS?’ Actually the exact opposite, less than 6% of Kenyans live with aids and yet the other 94% are blanketed with this untrue assumption about all Kenyans and Africans alike. Not to mention that it pains me that I need to explain to a grown adult the transmission process of AIDS and HIV and how getting AIDS from hugging a child is quite literally impossible.
Most of all though, it pains me because I see how closed off and sheltered the people around me are about a country that means more to me than I could ever explain. It pains me that they will see pictures of me and my friends and just assume that they have a disease. It pains me that all the outside world will only see a person living with HIV or AIDS as an AIDS patient and nothing more and nothing less. It pains me that nearly 50 years after the beginning of the AIDS epidemic that this disease is the only thing that people have retained about that beautiful continent and people. AIDS and HIV are harsh diseases but ignorance is worse.