World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, began in 1988 for the purpose of focusing world attention on the deadly pandemic. Since its discovery 25 years ago, more than 25 million people have died from AIDS and more than 33 million people are living with the virus. Sadly, no cure is in sight.
Today, people with AIDS live longer due to life-saving medicines, provided they can pay for them. California has a program, the AIDS Drug Assistance Plan, to help those living with AIDS get the life-saving medicine they need. Still, the federal government shortchanges people with AIDS.
As new cases of AIDS infections increase and costs of medicines rise, those afflicted with HIV shouldn’t be neglected by their government. The primary source of federal funding to combat the virus in communities across the country is the Ryan White Care Act, named after a Kokomo, Ind. youth who contracted the virus through a blood transfusion. White died in 1990 at the age of 18.
Earlier this year, Congress cut $9 million in Ryan White funds for San Francisco. This news was greeted with anger by San Francisco’s political leaders, as well as those living with the virus and their families and friends.
A recent report concluded AIDS has reached epidemic status in Washington, DC, where 128 of every 1,000 people have AIDS. The virus is also spreading in rural areas, where information on AIDS is seriously lacking.
AIDS knows no boundaries and those in rural areas need services, but not at the expense of urban areas. Congress needs to allocate more funding for the Ryan White Care Act.
Statistics show an increase in the number of AIDS cases among heterosexuals, primarily blacks. AIDS stopped being a gay-only disease years ago. AIDS is an equal opportunity killer and everyone who has unprotected sex is at risk.
Let us reflect on the lives of our friends and loved ones lost to AIDS on World AIDS Day and each day thereafter.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
BY MARTHA VALLEJO
DESMOND MILLER / GUARDSMAN
The end of the semester is just around the corner. It is time for students to evaluate their goals. It is not only the semester that concludes, but it also happens to be the end of the calendar year and this time demands some thoughts and reflections on our objectives.
It is not always a happy choice to meditate on how much we have achieved so far in our education, but it is a necessary aspect that enables us to walk this road leading to a future profession that hopefully will fulfill our social-work abilities.
At this stage of the semester, it is time to push ourselves to take the last little jump that will bring the expected grades all along during this time. Minds and bodies are lacking the kind of energy we started the semester with but remember, there is only a couple of more weeks. Finals are there waiting eagerly for us.
With any luck we arrived at the finals stage with all the classes we started with. If we didn’t then after finals, we can perhaps analyze what were the obstacles we encountered along and try to plan better for next semester.
For those of us with some years ahead in the game of life and with multiple obligations, let’s remember that education means a lot more than it did years ago when we took life for granted. And the satisfaction and essence we are tasting from schooling have a flavor that was unthinkable in our juvenile years.
For the young students who are just beginning to savor the first years of adulthood, college can be just an expected footstep. Classes might be seen as burdensome obligations without any deeper significance in the everyday life. YouTube is more fun.
But time is invincible and sooner or later we understand that planning our education and pursuing it, is the rock on which we will stand.
BOILS, BLISTERS AND PUSTULES, OH MY
BY MARIA UMANZOR
Staphylococcus aureus, or MSRA, has been newsworthy in the last couple of weeks because it is an infection resistant to most antibiotics. However, some people still don’t know what it is and how it is caused. The good news is that easy hygiene steps can be done to prevent its spread.
MRSA is a type of bacteria carried in the nose and skin and can develop into an infection. The worst part about MRSA is that it’s resistant to methicillin and several other commonly used antibiotics, such as oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin.
There are two different MRSA infections: health care-associated MRSA, which is more frequent among people in hospitals and health care facilities with weakened immune systems and community-associated MRSA. The latter can cause minor skin infections or severe infections in healthy people who have not been hospitalized or had a medical procedure, according to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC reports that MRSA caused more than 94,000 life-threatening infections and about 19,000 deaths in the United States in 2005, and most were associated with health care settings.
You’re probably wondering, “How can I get MRSA? What are its symptoms? Am I at the risk of getting this infection?” Experts say we can become infected and spread it by direct contact to the skin or wound secretions of an infected person. It can also be spread by sharing objects such as towels, sheets, clothes, sauna benches, hot tubs, workout areas, sports equipment, wound dressings, needles and razors.
Places where the infection could spread include locker rooms, dormitory rooms and other crowded living conditions where skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur.
Some signs of MRSA skin infection include redness, warmth, swelling and tenderness of the skin, which might lead people to develop boils, blisters, pustules or abscesses.
What can we do to decrease our risk of MRSA? Once again, experts recommend that we practice good hygiene, which includes keeping our hands clean with soap and water. We can also keep wounds covered with clean, dry bandages, as well as not sharing our personal items.
Despite the fact that MRSA isn’t a new skin infection, the media has recently focused on two cases involving students. A 17-year-old high school student in Virginia died after being hospitalized with MRSA, and a seventh-grader in New York also died, provoking panic and forcing parents to find answers about MRSA.
Fortunately, no individual cases of MRSA have yet been reported in San Francisco. Still, we need more information about infectious diseases. So it’s very important to report any symptoms to our health care providers.
ON THE RECORD
Have you achieved your academic goals for this semester?
Aaron Hodnety, 18
“Yes. So far it’s just like my studying habits and focusing on classes, trying to be more like I was in high school. That’s just the majority of what I do. One thing I could’ve worked on more is finishing (things) more quickly, more quickly than I used to do.”
Miranda Aguilar, 26
“I have. I (earned) my associate degree and I was accepted to Cal State East Bay. I had great counselors who helped me plan my educational plan and put everything together.”
Brian Campos, 21
“Yes, I have. I have taken all the classes I needed, I’m passing all the classes I’m taking as well, so yeah. It’s been a really good semester. I’m hopefully transferring to the Conservatory of Music (next fall).”
Nisha Gupta, 23
“Yeah, I’ve done my four classes and I’ve been doing well in them. I moved here from Ireland, so this is all new to me. I just took on four classes and I took two in childcare, which is what I want to do.”
Bill Haite, 22
“Academic goals, I suppose, I mean I’m passing. I’m doing fair enough considering what’s going on with my own life. Probably wouldn’t drink so much and study a little more. I’m getting what I expected.”
Angela Shockness, 17
“Yes, I have. I’ve been able to come to school every day and get all the As I wanted... I’m actually finding out exactly what I want to major in, so that’s a good thing ‘cause I was very rocky about what I wanted to do, so I’m really happy about that.”
THE POLAROID CHRONICLES
BY JESSICA LUTHI
If you asked me about five years ago what I thought about getting married, I probably would have told you that marriage was the last thing on my mind. But now at 22, I’m singing a different tune.
My husband and I met in college a few years ago and became really good friends. He was the person who I went to when I need someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on. We’ve been through a lot as friends. It was no surprise to our friends when we became a couple.
It’s funny how you can’t imagine your life without someone, even though you see them every day and sometimes you can’t stand some of the things they do. Despite how much my husband bugs me, hogs the bed or steals the covers, his flaws make him who he is, and I wouldn’t have him any other way.
I will admit marriage is not always a bed of roses. We both have our differences and we disagree, sometimes loudly and passionately. The differences in our personalities clash sometimes, but I will say that afterward we both calm down and come to a compromise that makes both of us comfortable.
People may think that marrying young is rushing it or even irresponsible. But for me, I don’t see it that way. I know many people who married young and have been happy ever since. I’m not advocating rushing out and getting married, but (like anything in life) don’t completely shun the idea. Just keep an open mind.
BY MICHELLE BAGUIO
Here I am again. Sitting on the cold, hard bench of my neighborhood park two blocks from my house. This park is my sanctuary, my comfort zone. I come here whenever I feel sad and when I feel like my house is too crowded to think clearly.
But I never go alone. My dog, Chanel, always accompanies me. I know she’s bored and tired of our garage and backyard. So I take her to play with the park’s usual dogs, Rocky and Sparky. On days when his owner feels like it, Tommy’s there too. Their playtime gives me a chance to ponder on my past, what’s happening in my life and what I want to happen in the future.
Suddenly, a little girl comes up to me and says, “You look so peaceful with your puppy, like you haven’t got anything to worry about at all.” I just smile and let her and her six sisters play with Chanel.
I stare into space as my mind starts to wander: Will I get into law school? Can I make my parents proud? What age will I get married? Should I have one kid or two, or none at all? What age will I die? Will I be forgotten by my great-great-grandkids? So many questions, so much to think about, yet too little time.
I hear a faint whimper beside me. Oops, I forgot all about Chanel. As she continues to whimper, I realize my hands are freezing and darkness has fallen over us. I say goodbye to the little girl and her sisters as I pick up Chanel’s leash. Within a few minutes, we step inside my warm, cozy living room, feeling like we’ve been gone for days. I make myself a hot cocoa and snuggle with my favorite book under my covers. Ahhh. Home at last.