6th of March 2015
Yesterday I read an article written by a woman called Anke Wauters called ‘Ugly. Fat. Woman'. I didn't hesitate for a moment to read what she had to say. I'm glad I did, because the article is so fierce and full of emotion. She wrote about the public's expectations of ‘real women'. ‘Real women never age'. 'Real women fit into the smallest size of clothes'. But Anke doesn't agree. The introduction is about Anke saying that ‘real women' can have love handles. They feel so self-conscious sometimes that they would rather disappear. There's always something ‘wrong' with our looks. If a woman is small, she wants to be bigger. If she's blond, she wants to be a brunette. There are only a few women who are completely satisfied with their looks. As if we have to please other people by trying to look like supermodels! If you're small, you're small. If you're blond, you're blond. SO WHAT. Anke thinks the same way. "Let me clarify one thing," she says, "I am fat". She starts to explain that when she was 5 years old she felt OK with her body, "Because when you're 5 you can't possibly imagine something's wrong about the way you look." Hours before a presentation she sits in front of her closet crying because not one of her pieces of clothing can hide how much body there is and people will probably only remember ‘that fat person' from the presentation. One day she went to the swimming pool and had to convince herself before going. "Nobody cares what you look like," Anke said to herself, "People admire you for trying." When she arrived at the swimming pool, a few boys were just leaving. The leader of the gang stopped, stared at her and said three words: "Fat. Ugly. Woman". After hearing those words, Anke fled to the toilet and cried for a long time. That evening, she cried herself asleep for the first time in her life, just because she exists. When I read this I could only think "How can people hate each other so much? Is it fun to judge? To make other people feel bad so you can make yourself feel good?" Sadly, many people think like this. Anke talks about this issue so fiercely it's almost as if she doesn't care about what people say about her. She talks about her body and doesn't seem to care about what people think. But she does. Everyone does. And just like this strong woman says: "Real women are sick of it. Fat. Ugly. Woman. As if that's the only thing I am, defined by three things: weight, beauty and gender. I don't have to defend myself or apologize. I may have a bigger size, but that doesn't make me inferior. And I won't allow it any more. Real women are sick of it". If you understand Dutch, I strongly advise you to read Anke's article on http://ankeschrijfthetneer.com/2015/02/26/dik-lelijk-wijf/
4th of March 2015
The first half of my internship has passed and it literally flew by. I would love to do a recap with you guys. What have I learned since I started here at Designers Against AIDS? The first week I got here, I immediately got the chance to cook up a campaign for Valentine's Day. The funny thing is that I wanted to apply the strategies I learned in school, but it soon turned out I didn't quite need them. Don't get me wrong, I want to study a few more years after this, but I just understood right then and there that you learn something by doing something. At Designers Against AIDS, you get a lot of responsibilities. I heard from a few others that they just have to correct papers, or- as cliché as it gets- go make coffee. I have always liked Photoshop, so much that I took a subsidiary course. Unfortunately, we mostly saw Indesign and Illustrator there (which I also love, of course). In this one month at Designers Against AIDS, I got the opportunity to improve my Photoshop skills even further. As I said, you only learn by doing it and, well, I got a lot of opportunities to do so. When I drove to Deurne that first day, I was a little stressed. I kept hoping that the atmosphere at Designers Against AIDS would be good. When I arrived, nothing was more true. Everyone is friendly and nice and jokes are a daily matter here at DAA. Let me draw up a quick conclusion here: when being an intern at Designers Against AIDS, you get to learn a lot because you get a lot of responsibilities...and you get to make coffee - for yourself! When you're good at something, you get the chance to show it, because you will always get the opportunity to work on it. Also, you don't have to be afraid if you haven't got it all figured out. There's enough guidance for everyone here at Designers against AIDS! The people who work here are funny- or would you rather sit behind a desk with grumpy people? If you're a cat lover, you've come to the right place too: there are 5 cats here, who are dying to meet you (figuratively speaking)! On top of all that, you get the chance to work with celebrities and well-known designers. So what are you waiting for?!
3rd of March 2015
Here at Designers Against AIDS we obviously love clothes. Because we want to keep doing what we do -and also because we love you- a lot of clothes and other pieces from our stock are being sold in our very own charity webshop: http://designersagainstaids.tictail.com/ We want to show the goods on offer to as many potential customers as possible, which is why we are starting a new collaboration with Labelcrush, a fashion website where people can buy and sell trendy designer clothes, handbags, shoes and other accessories. Labelcrush - who have more than 20.000 customers- very kindly offered us our very own charity shop on their website! My job right now is to transfer the clothes from one website to the other and this comes with tasks such as taking extra pictures of the clothes- preferably on a white background. As the DAA HQ is a very colourful place I had to bring a white bed sheet to use as a background from my own home -and soon enough I was assigned the title of house ghost. Never mind that, this ghost has work to do! I have put the sheet on the floor now and when the sun finally comes through I will start taking the pictures. The 5 DAA cats are all very interested in this white, soft thing on the ground, and... where did the ghost go? Wish me good luck and visit our Labelcrush profile if you want to take a look at my fabulous pictures -hopefully you'll find something you like to buy and don't forget: 100% of all sales proceeds go to support our work! http://www.labelcrush.com/closet/designers-against-aids  
2nd of March 2015
When we think about a wedding, we think about a pretty dress, a tailored suit and a huge, delicious wedding cake. But what if there are two suits involved? Don't they deserve a wedding cake too? It happened to a couple in Indianapolis. When they asked a bakery to bake a cake for their commitment ceremony, they were told that it was "in opposition with" the Christian faith of the bakery owners. Stephens and Laney found another bakery that was willing to bake their dream cake. You know that show on TV where the brides don't get what they expected for their wedding and they turn into so-called bridezilla's? I'm quite surprised that this wasn't the couple's reaction . They took it really well and "focused on the good". Unfortunately, this isn't the only gay couple coping with problems like this. In December 2014, the owner of a cake shop in Colorado told Fox news that he'd "rather go to jail than prepare a same-sex wedding cake". The Indianapolis-events occured in march 2014. This Friday, however, news came out that the bakery refusing to bake the cake closed its doors. The bakery was still profitable, but after word of the refusal got out last year, the bakery was being boycotted. Nevertheless, some people travelled long distances to buy pastries to stand by the bakery. The bakery opened its doors in 2012 in a neighborhood with a long-established gay culture. This alone should have made the owners think twice, but they say they "just didn't want to be party to such a commitment ceremony, because it reflects a commitment to sin."source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/14/indianapolis-gay-couple-cake_n_4965149.htmlhttp://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/02/27/anti-gay-marriage-bakery-gone/24133651/
27th of February 2015
Yesterday I saw a documentary about a woman who had been born a man and when she was 38 years old, she changed gender. That's when Christoff became Chrisst'll. I wasn't planning on watching the documentary, but I ended up doing it anyway. I have always admired people like Chrisst'll who want to change gender, but after seeing the documentary I understood her even better. She just felt as if she was born in the wrong body. You hear that a lot, but even in that small documentary I saw that she was right. It showed a few other people too who changed gender and they were all so happy and satisfied. It was heartwarming to see how something like that can change people's lives. The only thing holding them back was, of course, other people. People who don't want to understand it, parents who don't speak to their children,... We all know Kendall Jenner because of her Marc Jacobs T-shirt supporting Designers Against AIDS; her dad Bruce Jenner is going through gender alignment right now. He was an athlete in his early years, has 6 children by 3 different spouses and at 60 years old he finally decided to change his gender and come out about it. He knew already when he was 5 years old that he was living in the wrong body and kept silent about this to the outside world for 55 years- how sad is that? In my opinion, people have to be able to choose for themselves who they are in life. Why would you ruin your own shot at happiness to make other people happy? Chrisst'll has 3 children and they love her for who she is. They don't call Chrisst'll mom or dad, but Maddy. In the documentary they say that they thought it was strange in the beginning, but after a little while they got used to it. They can live with it, so why can't strangers do the same?
25th of February 2015
A 82-year-old celibate monk from Cambodia has HIV. So what is the cause? It turns out that his doctor was reusing syringes and this resulted in 272 people getting infected with HIV, including babies and children. The World Health Organization warns that reusing syringes can also expose people to Ebola, malaria and other diseases. The organization wants countries to start using "smart syringes": syringes that disable themselves after one injection. "Some have a metal clip that blocks the plunger and you cannot pull it back to give another injection. Some have a weak point, so if you try to pull it back, it breaks. And some have a device, like a spring, that automatically retracts the needle after the plunger hits the bottom of the barrel." says Dr. Selma Khamassi, head of the WHO team for injection safety. The only problem is keeping it affordable in low-income countries. A normal syringe costs 3 to 4 cents whereas a smart one costs 4 to 8 cents. Once the demand for them increases, the price will probably decrease. Why do people reuse the syringe? Cost is the first reason. Secondly, some think that by changing the needle tip on the part that holds the medicine, they remain safe, which is not the case. Also, low-paid health workers reuse syringes to get an extra income by giving injections outside of their hospital. But it also happens in wealthy countries says Khassima, because of ignorance, laziness, lack of equipment or even greed. Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/02/24/388785319/how-did-a-celibate-82-year-old-buddhist-monk-contract-hiv    
24th of February 2015
A lot of people have trouble with their parents when it comes to outing themselves as being gay. That won't be a problem for Willa Hansen-Kohn: her parents Sally Kohn and Sarah Hansen -who are both gay- want her to be gay too when she grows up. Kohn says she wants Willa to be gay. "We define happiness as some variation of our own lives, or at least the lives of our expectations. If we went to college, we want our kids to go to college. If we vote Democrat, of course we want our kids to vote Democrat" she states in an essay for the Washington Post. The essay got a lot of reactions, both positive and negative. Sally Kohn says that being gay is an asset and a gift. She also thinks that doubt about her parenting skills reflects people's own biases. "Perhaps people think it is easier to be straight in a homophobic culture." Being straight does not mean you are superior, Kohn says. The mother had very supportive parents and she believes that this shaped her philosophies. They bought every book featuring gay families and nontraditional-gender-roles. When Willa plays with her bears as being mom and dad, her moms tell her that it could also be dad and dad. But, they state, it's her own choice. Kohn wants her daughter to be happy but most of all, true to herself. She shouldn't listen to other people's ideals. Christina Brown, psychology professor at the University of Kentucky, says Kohn is "just trying to show gender neutrality to he daughter to provide a counterpoint to the hetero-normative dialogue. That way she will feel accepted no matter what." From my point of view, I think Sally Kohn is right to teach her daughter that she should choose her own path. Being gay is not the only thing people are struggling with. Money, weight, clothes... Everything that can be judged, will be judged. I think that people these days are way too obsessed with a ‘good image', but that doesn't always make them happy. Source: https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/mom-who-wants-her-kid-to-be-gay-sparks-111874622052.html
24th of February 2015
  Did any of you see the movie ‘The Imitation Game’? The movie features Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley and it's a true story about Alan Turing being recruited by the newly created MI6 in 1939 to crack Nazi codes. He also has to crack Enigma, thought to be unbreakable. Turing’s team is able to crack the codes and they become heroes, but when authorities find out Alan Turing is gay, they send him to prison.   Recently the director of ‘The Imitation Game’ Morten Tyldum had to defend the movie for…not having enough gay sex scenes. Even though the director got nominated at the Academy Awards for ‘Best Director’, people accused Tyldum of wanting to underplay Turing’s homosexuality.   In an interview the director says it wasn’t because they were afraid it would offend anyone or that he was shying away from it: Turing’s relationship was all about secrecy, so you notice that in the movie as well.   “If I had this thing about a straight character, I would never have a sex scene to prove that he’s heterosexual. If I have a gay character in a movie, I need to have a sex scene in it – just to prove that he’s gay?” he said. “The only reason to have a sex scene in the film would be to satisfy critics who feel that every gay character needs to have a gay sex scene.”   The movie was nominated for 8 Oscars and it won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay. Benedict Cumberbatch used ‘The Imitation Game’ as a campaign to pardon gay men who had been imprisoned during the same period for their crimes .   I didn’t see the movie, so I don’t know if the critics are right or wrong. What I do know is that I believe Tyldum has a point. Why should he have to ‘confirm’ Turing being gay by showing a sex scene? Let me know what you think!   Source: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/feb/22/the-imitation-game-director-defends-lack-gay-scenes-alan-turing-benedict-cumberbatch
23rd of February 2015
I have to admit that when I first arrived here at Designers Against AIDS, I didn’t know much about HIV, let alone about the ways you can get infected. We saw the topic in a lot of courses at school, but naturally we saw a lot of other things too, so it kind of got swallowed up among the rest. That’s sad, considering HIV is something you really have to protect yourself from and I’m pretty sure that some young people still believe that condoms should only be used when you don’t want to get yourself a mini-me.   Did you know for instance that there are 6 different ways to get HIV when you don't know enough about it?   Numero uno: you thought your love was monogamous. Sadly, it’s always possible that your partner chose another bed to 'sleep' in every now and then -even if it was one time only. Make sure you communicate about it! Secondly, you can think you always wear a condom, but going out and drinking alcohol can change your behaviour. Just remember to be careful when drinking. Another way to get HIV is because the love of your life didn’t know he or she was HIV-positive (currently this is the case with at least 1 out of 4 seropositive people). The only way to prevent this is to get tested before you discard those condoms out of your bedroom. Number four, you may think that your bed partner would tell you about HIV. But when it comes to sex, some people just don’t want to talk about certain things and sometimes this also means lying or shutting their mouth about their status. Also, some gay men state that when they are on top during sex, they can’t get HIV. One in five men who were recently infected with the virus were in fact on top. The last way to get HIV is because you think it can’t happen to you. Unfortunately, everyone is at risk. So read this article once or twice to remind yourself of that fact.   This is one of the reasons why I think Designers Against AIDS is fighting for a really good cause. They want young people to know these kinds of things, because- admit it- we probably all fell asleep at least once during a biology lesson and it might just have been the one about HIV. 
18th of February 2015
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”   These were the first sentences that I read when looking at the US project with the hashtag #speakoutHIV. It contains a video of boys and girls who have HIV, or who know somebody who has the virus. They talk about the problems they had with outing themselves as being gay, and/or having HIV. It is really emotional to watch, but it’s also obvious that these young people have found their inner strength.   “HIV doesn’t make me, I make me” is just one of the powerful quotes they are using. These young people speak out and we want to join them in their fight. We speak out for young people, so they think about protecting themselves. If we can achieve that, we will achieve reducing new HIV infections to a minimum. Of course there are a lot of obstacles that people have to overcome, but if everyone would help a little bit, we might just be able to overcome these problems.   Speak out yourself too by making a video, photo or message with the hashtag #speakoutHIV and join the movement, because together we are greater than HIV. What will you say in your message?
17th of February 2015
HIV is something no person really chooses to live with and in Cuba a new and even more aggressive form was identified recently. This virus is the result of having unprotected sex with multiple partners who have HIV, so that the HIV strains combine into a new HIV variant. Patients sometimes didn't even know they were infected and AIDS occurs within 3 years of their first HIV infection. HIV normally anchors to co-receptors - proteins on the membranes of cells. First it anchors to CCR5 and after a few more or less healthy years, to CXCR4. When this happens, a faster progression to AIDS occurs. The Cuban virus quickens the transition to CXCR4 after infection and reduces the healthy phase, which means the progression to AIDS happens a lot faster. Researchers compared the blood of people with this ‘new' virus with blood of people with the known HIV virus. The patients with the new HIV variant had high doses of the virus and RANTES, which are defensive molecules. RANTES is part of the immune response and it binds to CCR5. Because there is such a high dose of it, it suggests that CCR5 proteins weren't good anchor points for this variant of HIV and the virus went straight to the CXCR4. Normally the transition from CCR5 to CXCR4 is difficult, but a protease was found in the new and aggressive HIV, which is an enzyme that enables viruses to replicate in great numbers. This virus is said to be the most aggressive virus ever studied in humans. Reason enough to protect yourself, right? Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hiv-strain-found-in-cuba-could-be-most-aggressive-ever-studied-in-humans-10057570.html http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/289477.php
17th of February 2015
Ever heard of the New York musical ‘Witness Uganda’? The composers of this show, Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, star in a music video called ‘Invisible Thread’. The video shows the couple in their daily life in New York, but in fact supports Ugandan students who are being affected by the anti-gay laws in Uganda.   There are around 2.5 million orphans in Uganda because of AIDS, poverty and war. Students can’t pay for school, so they have no hope. The UgandaProject is a non-profit organization that wants to ensure free education, housing, mentoring and basic needs for the students. It uses social media, art, events and forums to make the world a better place. The aim of the music video is to raise $10.000 for the project.  “We believe that education is the greatest deterrent to intolerance and hatred. With your help, we can send 4 of our students through their final semester of college and help them become the next generation of enlightened leaders in Uganda.”  Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/18/invisible-thread-broadway-uganda-_n_6702154.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000050
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IHAEC blog

Enter the student's territory and follow the days of their lives at DAA's International HIV/AIDS Awareness Education Center (IHAEC).
On this page the students of the Education Center will tell you everything about their stay at DAA, from the things they learn and the campaigns they create to what they have for breakfast, this blog will be their online diary: an opportunity for them to share their experiences and to give you a sneak peak into the life at DAA IHAEC.
Enjoy the ride!

 

 

 

 

 

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