Stories about AIDS

How the misinterpreted youth of Pakistan are fading away into oblivion

Addiction is a mental disease that is defined by science as the formulation of dependency on a substance or activity. It can manifest itself into any human being, driving them towards disengagement from reality and secluding them into an abyss of excessive compulsive behaviour. Addiction can either be chemical or non-chemical. Chemical addiction may include almost anything from the consumption of caffeine by means of morning and evening tea/coffee, to injectable fluids such as heroine, morphine, methamphetamine and other psychotropic drugs. Non-chemical addiction, on the other hand, is referred to behavioural addictions such as gambling, risk-taking, watching television, playing games, excessive shopping and even love. These examples do not even begin to compartmentalise ...

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What is so ‘filthy’ and ‘unnatural’ about reproductive sex, Pakistan?

A close friend of mine recently had an STI (sexually transmitted infection) scare. Despite being in excruciating pain, she was scared to ask her husband how she got the infection. After a few days of discomfort and suffering, she consulted a doctor who put her mind to rest by confirming that she had a yeast infection because of diabetes. But during this whole episode, I was surprised to find out how ignorant she was about sexual health. First, she was adamant that she couldn’t get an STI from her husband because he was absolutely fine, which is irrelevant and factually incorrect because some STIs ...

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Why do 25 million Pakistanis defecate openly?

During moments of reflection it sometimes occurs to me that, as a nation, we have been conditioned to only react to tragedies on a large scale. In the greater scheme of things, this ability to suppress emotional reactions to the trauma that surrounds us serves as a defence mechanism of sorts; one that allows us to go about each day without being overwhelmed by paralysing depression. With this filter in place, we are able to circumvent the accompanying responsibility, writing off what we deem minor and letting it drown under a sea of other (more) pressing issues. Failing to ...

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Would you accept blood from a gay donor?

More than a month has passed since the Orlando shooting revealed an exploitable defect in American gun laws. What it also exposed, was a structural bias against a peaceful community that has existed for a long time. On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen – later identified as a young Muslim who was troubled by his own homosexual orientation – opened fire inside a nightclub, killing 49 innocent people. In the wake of this devastating attack, we’ve heard survivor accounts that challenge what we’ve been indoctrinated to believe regarding the alleged inhumanity of gay individuals. We’ve learned of ‘deviants’ who threw their bodies in ...

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Does Islam prevent AIDS?

Maps have many fathers. One of them is the genie of omission. So beware of the map that is too straightforward and simple. It may very well be obscuring something. For also in cartography, this general rule applies: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. An interesting point in case are the twin maps of Africa shown below, one of the spread of Islam, the other the spread of AIDS. The contrast is striking – where one occurs, the other is absent. Is this proof of Islam’s salutary effects? Or do the maps merely demonstrate the power of map-based ...

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He went from being her uncle to the father of her child, and no one saved her

Saima was 10-years-old when she was taken from her school located in a small town in Mitiari by her khaalu (maternal aunt’s husband). He told the teacher that Saima’s mother was very sick and she needed to be taken to her at the earliest. He arrived at the village, along with the little girl who had no idea what was about to happen with her. He asked her to stay at his house till her parents returned from the hospital, and she responded with affirmation. Two days passed by and Saima was eager to see her parents but they had not returned from the hospital as yet. Saima ...

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12 and married

The small private clinic was echoing with mixed voices – those of ear-piercing shrills and loud excitement. Waiting to see my doctor, I realised the commotion in the maternity section with nurses rushing through a storm of women – aunts and grandmothers waiting on news of a baby child. Passing it on as regular routine at the clinic, I was alarmed when the doctor came out scolding the elderly woman in the group who was wailing, claiming the doctor did not do enough to save the child. The doctor told the waiting family, “The poor girl would have died in labour. She was ...

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Pakistan’s silent drug war taking another hit

Border skirmishes between India and Pakistan have left numerous civilians dead; the ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) have been the worst in a decade. And media outlets on both sides of the border are revelling in front pages and headlines about the clashes. But there is another conflict that continues along one of Pakistan’s borders, and it has impacted about 6.7 million Pakistanis in 2013 alone. Yet, it continues to be neglected from the front pages. I met one of its victims when I was 15-years-old. The tiny form of an old man, curled into a ball, like a discarded shoe, ...

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India walking the talk with their first transgender news anchor

It is prime time bulletin on Lotus News, a satellite news channel in southern Indian town, Coimbatore. Dressed in a dark brown silk sari, 31-year-old Padmini Prakash is all set to read out the day’s headlines. In matching brown lipstick, vermilion in the parting of her hairline and a bunch of white jasmine tucked in her black curls, Padmini sports a professional charm. Her Tamil pronunciation is clear. Her intonation is perfectly timed. In less than two months, Padmini has become one of the most popular news anchors of the television channel.   But it wasn’t an easy journey for ...

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Stop criticising the Ice Bucket Challenge!

My advice, to those criticising the Ice Bucket Challenge for being a waste of water, is stop! Stop criticising long enough to understand the rare disease community and their struggles. The kind of awareness ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), has gotten over the past few weeks is the kind of well-deserved attention, I as someone who saw those closest to me suffer with a disease nobody knew off, could diagnose or had even heard off, wish and hope one day all rare diseases receive. People from all over the world have taken part in the campaign that has spread like wild fire. Celebrities ...

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