Author: has written 5296 posts for this blog.

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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25 Responses

  1. Raging Leftie
    Raging Leftie March 4, 2013 at 11:59 am |

    Very good article, couldn’t agree more, this is not a miracle that the media is portraying though, but something science has been working hard for many years to achieve. This is a complex issue which needs to be discussed and addressed fully, the issues involved are incredibly important.

    1. EG
      EG March 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm |

      this is not a miracle that the media is portraying though, but something science has been working hard for many years to achieve.

      I guess I don’t see these things as mutually exclusive, perhaps due to my atheism; more, I see them as necessarily one and the same thing. It is a testament to the power of the human intellect and the dedication and work of many scientists and doctors that something wonderful that in my lifetime was thought to be impossible has been achieved. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the very definition of a miracle.

      1. SophiaBlue
        SophiaBlue March 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm |

        I agree, but I don’t think that’s what most people mean by miracle, and I think the point is that calling it a miracle makes it sound like God waved the HIV away, rather than this being the result of hard work by human beings.

      2. SamBarge
        SamBarge March 7, 2013 at 8:06 am |

        That might be your definition of a miracle but the dictionary’s definition usually includes something about an act going against nature, with supernatural intervention as it’s cause.

        It is helpful to remember that every advancement of humanity, just like every setback, was the natural work of humans. As an atheist, I try to avoid language with mythical and/or magical connotations. It was the talent, commitment, hard-work and goodness of the scientists that brought this about, not some unnatural process of which they weren’t aware or in control.

        Humanity owns this. We own prejudice, evil and poverty too, in case anyone is worried about humanity getting a swelled head.

        1. EG
          EG March 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm |

          I try to avoid language with mythical and/or magical connotations.

          I strongly disagree. Mythical and magical language is immensely powerful and resonant. Why would I want to give up such an important element of communication and art? That is precisely the sort of thing that religious people think atheists have to do.

          By the way, look at the second definition of Merriam Webster: “an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.” Then look at the examples.

  2. Raging Leftie
    Raging Leftie March 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm |

    In particular I think it is important as you mention to make a point about the woman in question, when we call her irresponsible we are assuming that there was something she should have done, resources she would have access to, we don’t know her circumstances and I think we need to be sensitive, but there are most likely I host of other factors involved e.g. unemployment and addictions. Get thought provoking post (btw sorry if I’ve double posted my comment by accident).

  3. ‘Cured’ baby remains solitary that genuine solution to HIV is still a long way off – The Independent |

    […] Guardian (blog)Doctors say they have cured HIV-positive baby through early treatmentMacleans.caFeministe (blog) -Timesonline.comall 355 news articles » Share […]

  4. Aunt B.
    Aunt B. March 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm |

    I’m not sure if I’m just not reading the NYTimes story the same way as everyone else but it seems obvious to me why the woman stopped coming to the doctors. Her follow-up appointments appear to also have been in Jackson, where they took the baby when they discovered it was HIV positive in the first place.

    In many ways, this makes sense–obviously, a major university medical center is going to have more experience with HIV patients and their care and it’s probably a lot easier (and less stigmatizing) to fill HIV prescriptions in Jackson than in rural Mississippi. But my god, if a woman doesn’t have the resources to get to a nearby doctor when she’s pregnant, even getting to Jackson as much as she did shows a monumental commitment to caring for her child. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for her to decide she could no longer make the trip.

    I mean, if she’d not gone at all for follow-up appointments, you could argue that she was uncaring. But for 18 months, she got to Jackson.

    As for Jill’s question about what resources there are for rural women, obviously, very few. There’s a great program here in the South–the Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker Program

    –that trains local women to provide a lot of guidance and mentoring to pregnant women and new mothers. They do really great work. But if you’re in the mood for being depressed about the seemingly insurmountable issues women face, talk to those folks some time. Some of it is structural–in rural Appalachia, for instance, some pastors don’t take kindly to anyone telling the women in their congregations that they don’t have to accept being beaten. Some of it is just practical–if your family has one car and your partner needs to take the car to work, how do you get to the doctor? Or, if you live in the rural Delta and your baby needs to regularly see a specialist in Jackson, how do you get there?

  5. chana
    chana March 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm |

    Am I the only person who doesn’t see anything in the NYT article about the socioeconomic status of the mother? Are we over-relying on stereotypes to fill in the blanks that this woman, by virtue of being HIV+ and from rural MS, has large obstacles getting to appointments, including poverty and addiction?

    1. karak
      karak March 4, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

      I don’t see anything particularly progressive about assuming a mother is a terrible, disgusting person for not raising her kid the way others want to. That seems to be the standard.

      1. chana
        chana March 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

        I don’t think one should anything about the SES of the mother because the article had absolutely no information that points one way or the other.

        Assuming that just because someone has HIV and misses doctor’s appointments, she’s probably impoverished and/or drug-addicted isn’t very progressive either.

        1. chana
          chana March 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm |

          Ugh. Missing word fail. “should *assume* anything”

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm |

          Assuming that just because someone has HIV and misses doctor’s appointments, she’s probably impoverished and/or drug-addicted isn’t very progressive either.


          I would assume that something horrible happened to the mother for her to not be able to get the kid to treatment, personally, mostly because she DID make it to the hospital so many months under, presumably, roughly similar circumstances. (Though of course unemployment could have struck, and my immediate thought was that she got very sick herself and wasn’t able to travel, that’s a possibility too, etc.) But, you know, feel free to be all anti-stereotypes and just assume she’s perfectly able to get the kid treatment and just stopped because after 18 months of that tiresome hospital visits a girl just has to do her nails for five months, or something.

        3. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue March 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm |

          I’m pretty sure you’re the first person who brought up the possibility of drug addiction.

        4. igglanova
          igglanova March 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm |

          I think you’re being unfair to chana. The point of his / her comment was not that we should assume the worst of the mother, but that we should avoid making assumptions of any kind.

        5. chana
          chana March 4, 2013 at 8:27 pm |

          Thank you, igglanova. This is a real woman, who will presumably be reading or hearing about herself everywhere. To have people imagining parts her life so they can be used to fit into their narratives must be awful. I’d just want me and my supposed problems kept out of it.

        6. EG
          EG March 4, 2013 at 9:49 pm |

          That’s not really possible. The baby represents a huge medical breakthrough; it’s a legitimate major news story, and when a baby is involved, you can’t really keep the mother out of it.

        7. karak
          karak March 5, 2013 at 3:39 am |

          If you’re missing your HIV appointments for your newborn baby, you’re either seriously financially/mentally incapacitated or a foul, disgusting human being (or possibly both).

          There’s really no other explanation. We can either give the mother the benefit of the doubt and think there may be other factors, or we can assume she’s shitty person who should be drowned at sea. I’d rather be merciful, but to each their own.

        8. Alexandra
          Alexandra March 5, 2013 at 3:56 am |

          Or simply ignorant, karak. Sex education in Mississippi in the Bush years was practically non-existent. There are still plenty of people who think that HIV is:

          – a “gay disease” and punishment for the sin of homosexuality

          – a CIA plot

          – a Tuskeegee style experiment

          Not to mention how powerful denial can be. And perhaps this mother saw that her baby seemed perfectly happy and healthy, and couldn’t see the use of the ARVs – how many people go off antibiotics every year, despite knowing the risks?

          Another interesting fact: over the course of one year, around 60% of all people with a chronic health condition will be not adhere to their medication regime for one reason or another. This holds true across many different types of ailment, from heart disease to bipolar disorder. I see no reason why HIV/AIDS would be any different.

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 9:40 am |

        Wait a minute, the parent and child live in rural Mississippi, yet we are not supposed to acknowledge the widespread reality of poverty and how it results in much of that population being medically underserved? And somehow working from the assumption that this reality likely played a role in this child not getting needed medical care is not a progressive thing to do?

        Or maybe, it just makes it easier to Mommy bash. It is a national pasttime, after all!

    2. rhian
      rhian March 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm |

      In my experience, when people stop seeking health care, particularly for their children, and particularly for a very serious issue, it’s almost always for one of the reasons Jill mentioned.

  6. Alexandra
    Alexandra March 5, 2013 at 3:52 am |

    I am beginning to get involved in volunteer and outreach work in a community (it really is a community – strong bonds in the neighborhood) of primarily homeless and drug-addicted people who have been ghetto-ized by the town into a historically red-lined neighborhood still known as Chinatown from the time when it was the only place Chinese immigrants were allowed to live.

    Specifically, I’m going to be doing work through an HIV/AIDS Services group, in the needle exchange (I mentioned this group during the Open Thread discussion). One of the things we did during orientation/training was a needs assessment, and during conversation with a community rep from the homeless population, it came up again and again how immobile the homeless really are — people are not able to walk even a mile and a half to the nearby community hospital; many must wait for an hour-a-week clinic hosted out of the soup kitchen. A combination of physical disability, drug addition, mental illness, age, social stigma, and ignorance (not all at once, necessarily) serve to limit the movements of many people in this neighborhood. If you’re homeless and use a walker, and there’s little public transportation, you cannot walk a mile and a half, especially if you’re diabetic and have lost feeling in your toes, or if you have an abscess from using a blunt and dirty needle to shoot up…

    I don’t know much about the concrete issues of access to healthcare in rural Mississipi, and I think Chava’s point upthread about not making assumptions about the identity of the mother of this miracle child are well taken. Still, I think it is broadly true that there can be a whole lot of barriers other than laziness or poor moral character to getting medical care for a sick child.

  7. More good news for people who like good news

    […] noting the import of that qualifier “functionally.” And Jill Filipovic provides some necessary broader context. But still, I’m with The Onion: “Headline With Words ‘HIV Baby’ in It […]

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