So December 1st is World AIDS Day and when Caroline (from Portrait of a Woman) said she was arranging HIV/AIDS in YA Lit Week to help raise awareness I jumped at the chance to take part. I had intended to post this earlier today but as usual I'm running a little late (but better late than never don't you think?).
If you're anything like me you probably don't know a great deal about HIV or AIDS. The extent of my knowledge was that there is no cure and that it is spread by bodily fluids so can be caught through blood transfusions (before blood screening was introduced), sexual contact or sharing needles. I knew very little about the number of people who have the disease or the treatments available. I don't remember ever discussing this issue at school apart from a general discussion that you should use a condom to prevent all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases.
With more than 90,000 cases in the UK and 33.4 million people with HIV worldwide this is a serious issue. I can't even get my brain around those numbers! There is no cure for HIV or AIDS so the most important thing we can do is find out how to prevent the infection from spreading. I would strongly suggest checking out the World AIDS Day website for more information, they have some frightening facts and figures that we all need to be aware of. The real life stories will show you just how difficult it can be to live with the stigma of this illness despite the fact that sufferers can now expect to have a normal life expectancy if they start treatment early enough.
Caroline has done a fantastic job organising HIV / AIDS in YA Lit Week and it's not too late for you to take part if you're interested. She has created a list of different books about the topic here - why not check out your local library and see if they have any available? Or if you don't want to read one of these books yourself Caroline is keeping a list of reviews & posts written by other bloggers here so why not stop by and leave a comment showing your support?
I found 3 books at my local library that each look at HIV or AIDS in a different way, each one has been heart wrenching in it's own way but I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them. Check back over the next few days to read my reviews but here are the descriptions to give you something to think about in the meantime:
Abela: The Girl Who Saw Lions by Berlie Doherty:
'Be strong, my Abela.' These are the last words of Abela's mother in their HIV / AIDS stricken African village, where it seems that to live or to die, to be sick or to be healthy, is just a matter of chance. It takes all Abela's strength to survive her Uncle Thomas's scheming to get to Europe, but what will be her fate as an illegal immigrant?
'I don't want a sister or a brother,' thinks Rosa in England, when her mother tells her that she wants to adopt a child. Could these two girls ever become sisters? Is there room in Rosa's family for an African orphan haunted by lions? Is there room in their hearts?
Soul Love by Lynda Waterhouse:
Jenna doesn't want to betray her friends and won't reveal the truth behind her exclusion from school, so she is sent away to live with her aunt in a sleepy countryside village.
It's here that she meets Gabriel, who seems so genuine and different from other people she knows. But she is wary of him at first - lately boys have been nothing but trouble for Jenna, and Gabe can be moody and withdrawn.
Despite her caution, Jenna can't help falling in love with Gabriel, and the longer she spends with him, the more deeply she falls. Could he be her soul mate? He seems to be the only one who understands Jenna and doesn't leap to conclusions. But then she discovers that Gabriel is living with a deep secret of his own...
Playing with Fire by Henning Mankell:
Sofia takes in sewing, and her older sister, Rosa, works in the vegetable plot to help their mother support their family. Rosa is strong and beautiful, and she loves boys, and dancing - something that Sofia, with her crutches, will never be able to do. Sofia imagines a boy who will love her for herself - Moonboy - the boy who appears in the night. Then suddenly Rosa falls ill, and Sofia is afraid for her. Their mother puts her faith in African magic, but it's Sofia who must help Rosa face the reality of AIDS, and the difficult road ahead.