I was in Toronto last week for a conference on HIV, pregnancy and mothering. It was an excellent conference, very interesting, with a good mix of researchers, HIV+ mothers, and frontline workers. There were even a few babies, and a toddler who took his mom’s cell phone, placed it on the floor, made sure she was looking, and then stomped it as hard as he could.
Infant feeding guidelines in third world countries are practically opposite those in the developed world. Because HIV can be transmitted through breast milk, Canadian HIV+ women are strongly advised NOT to breastfeed. Their third world counterparts are strongly advised to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months, while taking HIV medications. The reason for this? In the developing world, there are bigger threats to the baby’s life and health than HIV. The baby needs the mother’s antibodies to protect it from all kinds of other illnesses. (The HIV meds she’s taking will help protect the baby from HIV. If she’s part of a study, she gets access to these drugs; otherwise, she probably doesn’t.)
This was my third out-of-town trip since I started this job six months ago. Once I’ve done my bedbug check (so far they’ve all passed), I settle in and get comfortable. I eat a lot of junk food and I watch a lot of junk TV. (I don’t have a TV at home, but I had TWO of them in my hotel room.) I watched a transgender reality TV show called Changing Sexes, a reality real estate show called Love It or List It, and several episodes of Hoarders.
I love that crazy Hoarders show. A huge woman with a bunch of dogs lived in a house that was filled to capacity with garbage and stuff. The dogs regularly pooped on the stairs and of course it just accumulated there. The woman pooped in the bathroom, but the plumbing hadn’t worked in years, so you can imagine what her bathroom was like. She had two apparently normal sisters. One of them said the hoarder sister was a compulsive shopper, but she’d just throw the new stuff into the mess, bags and all. Whenever she ran out of money their parents would help her out because if she lost her house then she’d have to move in with them. Nobody wants to live with a hoarder. (I bet even other hoarders don’t want to live with them, because they’d have to compete for empty space to fill up.)
This hoarder actually seemed like a very nice person, kind of sweet and funny, and she loved her dogs and they loved her. But still, you have to wonder how people get that way. Is it a mental illness, or a symptom of a mental illness, or what? Can it happen to anybody at any time in their life?