Still a ways to go with HIV/AIDS

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Sadly, I keep reading stories like the one published on World AIDS Day on Quartz. Its a story about an increase of HIV infection rates in China. Again we see that this is mainly due to a 400% increase of infection among men who have sex with men. Not only are infection rates increase, but so are the deaths caused by AIDS.

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I often get the impression that many people do not see the disease as a threat any more. They often have the idea that through modern drug therapies, HIV has become a chronic disease and is no longer deadly if well managed. Yet they forget that people are still dying from these disease world wide. This is why I was happy to see the attention given to this disease this year on World AIDS Day (1st of December). I volunteer for the Man tot Man unit of the GGD Amsterdam, and was at this years Love Dance which is a event meant as a closing of the World AIDS Day commemorations and events.

The GGD Amsterdam was at this  party to offer free anonymous HIV testing. And I was happy to see people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientation getting tested. Even though its a small group, at least it promotes awareness of this epidemic and that the fight has not yet been won.

The Danish Girl

UK, USA, Belgium, Denmark, Germany – Drama [2015]

A story about a man who discovered that he had always been a woman. Although its not a new story, the film was wel acted and the support of the Einar/Lili’s wife was very moving. Both Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne did a great job on this film, and knowing the film is based on a true story increases its impact. Definitely an incentive to go and buy the book. [8/10*]

(Source: youtube.com)

Reasons Arubans like me will never return to Aruba

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Why do we Aruban’s tend to stand in the way of progress? For the small country that Aruba is, it has been presented with many opportunities for progress. Thankfully some of these have been taken advantage of, and as a result the people of Aruba enjoy a relatively high standard of living.

But every so often Aruba and its leaders tend to hesitate and not pull through in terms of progressive policies. Its green energy policy which has been stagnant and with the opening of the new refinery will now even take a step back. Its sister island Curaçao is marching ahead in this field to take the title of greenest Caribbean country. Also in terms of LGBTIQ rights, which have not even been given the opportunity to get started, is set to be stopped in its tracks.

Time and time again the open minded, liberal Aruban at home and abroad has to stand and look on as our country takes yet another wrong turn. As one who lives abroad myself, I often feel guilt for not contributing to the cause. How can we progress when there is brain drain? When the country’s talent leaves never to come back.

This is why I was so happy when in the last years the Aruban member of parliament Desirée de Sousa-Croes took up the fight to advance LGBT rights in Aruba. She is trying to pass a bill in the Aruban parliament which will finally legalize registered partnerships in Aruba. But to hear the Aruban prime minister stating his party’s essentially anti LGBTIQ stand in this matter and not show support for his own party member, is yet another disappointment. It makes me question if this government is still the right one to lead our country.

I do not want to get ahead of the facts, since the Aruban parliament still has to vote on this issue. But the recent events do show that the ruling party does not fight for the minorities or the environment. Like the old natural bridge, which collapsed in 2005 the year that I left and has always been a symbol for me that Aruba will never be the same again. The decisions that are taken (or not taken) these days remind me of the reasons I decided not to go back.