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Politics of Disease - Hiv Aids in Sub-Saharan Africa Vs. Diabetes in the Usa

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Essay title: Politics of Disease - Hiv Aids in Sub-Saharan Africa Vs. Diabetes in the Usa

The Politics of Disease: HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa vs. Diabetes in the U.S.A.

By Matiati Hasati

As Americans, we are very accustomed through media and other means, to positioning as a successful and evolved society in the eyes of both ourselves and the rest of the world. This position is often attained from pointing out flaws in other societies and cultures while virtually ignoring our own. One can turn on the television at any time and likely find images of impoverished and starving people in other parts of the world, all juxtaposed with commercials for fast food, shiny cars, mutual funds and other symbols of affluence. And as Americans we buy into these images without realizing that the average American has to travel no more than 5 miles from her own home to find poverty and hunger. We read the newspapers and watch TV shows shaking our heads at the oppression and injustice we see around the world when here in the US, a highly disproportionate number of minorities are in prison, women don’t earn as much as men for the same jobs, and people are shot by the U.S. government trying to cross the border from Mexico. In many aspects, it appears as if our society thrives on pointing out what is wrong with other cultures while ignoring the major problems in our own backyard.

One key example of this behavior is the American perception of illness and disease. Western culture displays much pride in how far science and technology has brought the health of humanity. The media is constantly informing us of health problems and disease around the world, while primarily showing images of healthy Americans on television, movies, etc. The truth is that while there are many nations that are battling with disease epidemics, the United States is by no means an exception.

There are certain diseases around the world that attract a lot of attention from American media. The main illness you cannot avoid hearing about is AIDS - more specifically AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. There are television specials, newspaper and magazine reports and multi-million dollar “awareness” campaigns led by A-list celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Bono. These campaigns funnel large amounts of money and other resources into AIDS education in Africa. Due to their celebrity endorsements and significant financial resources, these campaigns have garnered a lot of attention and visibility. Once again Americans are able to focus self-righteously on the health problems of the rest of the world while ignoring an equally as large, if not worse, epidemic on our own soil: Diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disorder of the metabolism process —the way our bodies use digested food for growth and energy. Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose, the form of sugar in the blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body.

After digestion, glucose passes into the bloodstream, where it is used by cells for growth and energy. For glucose to get into cells, insulin must be present. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach.

When we eat, the pancreas automatically produces the right amount of insulin to move glucose from blood into our cells. In people with diabetes, however, the pancreas either produces too little or no insulin, or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. Glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine, and passes out of the body in the urine. Thus, the body loses its main source of fuel even though the blood contains large amounts of glucose.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease results when the body’s system for fighting infection (the immune system) turns against a part of the body. In diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. A person

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