What Are Forklift Trucks?

Forklift Trucks are used in industrial settings to lift and move heavy objects. Since its development in 1920 by   transmission  company: Clark, and by hoist company: Yale and Towne Manufacturing, they have become a vital piece of machinery in warehouses across the world.

Forklift Trucks are classified into different  classes  and lift codes:

  • Class 1 include Electric Motor Riders. Their lift codes include: Number 4, which is a three-wheeled, sit-down, counterbalanced truck. Number 5, which is a cushioned, solid tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck. And, Number 6, which is a pneumatic tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 3 include Electric Motor Walkies. Their lift codes include: Number 2, which is a low-lift pallet truck. Number 5, which is a high reach lift type. And, Number 7, which is a high lift, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 4 include: Internal Combustion Engine Riders. Their lift codes include: Number 3, which is a cushioned, solid tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 5 include: Internal Combustion Engine Riders. Their lift codes include: Number 4, which is a pneumatic tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 6, which is Rough Terrain. Their lift codes include: Number 1 which is classified as all types.

Besides counterbalanced, there are speciality trucks which include:

  • Articulated Counterbalance Trucks. These are Forklift Trucks which have front wheel steering and a very narrow aisle truck. These are able to offload trailers, as well as place and move loads into narrow aisle racks.
  • Guided Very Narrow Aisle Trucks. These Forklifts are rail guided. Their lift heights are 40 feet to 98 feet, non-top tied or top tied respectively. These Forklift Trucks are only able to be used on floors with a high standard of flatness.
  • Explosion Proof Trucks. These are for use in the operation of the movement of potentially explosive materials.

In the interest of saving man-power and the wages associated with it, some companies now employ the use of these. These trucks are often computer operated and are becoming more and more available by manufacturers around the world. While they save on man-power in terms of having someone to operate the machine by standing behind or sitting in it, there is still the wages of the computer operator to consider when deciding if Forklifts actually save a company man-power or wages at all.

How to Find Free CNA Classes Online

In whatever field you would like to venture in for a solid career, you would have to start all the way from the bottom and that would be with education. If you’re interested in becoming a certified nurse assistant but don’t have the finances to gain the education that you need, then here are some ways you can find free CAN classes online.

Know that your search engine is your strongest weapon, so go online and start looking up free online classes. You may come across quite a few, but don’t join the first thing you see. Instead, take some time to research the course and program and make sure that it is accredited and recognized by the state.

Besides that, get in touch with your state’s nursing board and find out all the requirements necessary as they are the ones who are responsible for your licensing later on. When you’ve done that, start making calls to local nursing centers or even hospitals to see if they have couching services. Some of them have got classes conduction through the method of distance learning via internet, so if you don’t find out about them online, make inquires through phone or mail.

Also, you can also see if online institutes have got special financial aid or scholarships that you could apply for. There are too many online campuses these days that you wouldn’t have trouble finding one. Don’t forget that distance learning is worldwide and your geographical position doesn’t matter. All that counts is that the course you partake in is accredited and approved by the state in which you wish to practice in.

When you find a free CNA class to use online, don’t just rely on the limited materials given but use all your resources and study hard and make the time spent worth it.

At This Time What is the Best Treatment For Swine Flu? Disappointing News

At this time the best treatment for swine flu is prevention. Doing everything possible to avoid the flu may be more effective than the drugs and vaccine that we have (or maybe don’t have). The vaccine for H1N1 is scheduled to arrive in mid October but there will only be about 45 million doses and those will have to be doled out according to priorities set by your local health department.

The fact that we don’t have enough vaccine to go around may or may not be a problem. This vaccine was rushed into production and has not undergone the extensive testing that other vaccines have. The first question is will it work. The second question is what are the side effects. We won’t know those answers until late October.

There are two antiviral drugs available for flu, Tamiflu and an older drug Relenza. These drugs can be used to treat the flu or be used to prevent the flu in high risk populations like nursing homes. The good news is that the U.S. has at least enough stockpiled to treat 25% of the population. The bad news is that H1N1 might be immune to Tamiflu. In tests done in New York City last January, 99% of the H1N1 cases were Tamiflu resistant.

The other bad news about the drugs is that they work best when administered within 48 hours of coming down with swine flu. They won’t be prescribed unless the person tests positive for the strain. Now that the World Health Organization has stopped asking for test results, tests may or may not be given as readily as they were.

There are basically three types of tests. One can be completed in your doctor’s office in about 30 minutes. The problem with this test is it misses the flu roughly 30% of the time and also has a reputation of giving false positives. The other two tests require a lab. The actual test takes three hours to complete but add in transportation time and backlog and you’ll be lucky to see results in four days, two days longer than the recommended time to administer antivirals.

So the best answer to what’s the best flu treatment is, don’t catch it. If that doesn’t work; then your back to traditional treatment like fever medicine, rest, plenty of fluids, nutritious diet and Mom’s chicken soup.

This is going to be a big one and something you can’t ignore. It will affect your life either directly or indirectly. You need a plan on how to deal with it much as you would for dealing with an earthquake or hurricane.

Using Serialization

A common problem in programming is moving the program data to another spot, such as a file on disk or another computer. For example, suppose a video game needs to store a saved file on the hard drive. Normally, the developer would have to write a method that takes all the game information and puts it into a format that can be placed on disk. Another method needs to be written to reverse this. The concept of serialization, used in some programming languages, bypasses this.

If a language has serialization libraries, this means that these functions are built in. You can input an object and have built-in language libraries convert the object to data. And of course, you can do the reverse. Instead of having to write code and create your own format for storing program information, you can just have the language do it. This has a wide variety of uses besides the video game save file mentioned in the intro. Suppose you want any program to store user-inputted data. You can simply put that data into a serializable object, that write it to disk. When the program starts up again, use the deserialization methods.

This can also be used for network communications. Consider the problem of writing client and server programs that can communicate with each other. Instead of having to process data, you can just serialize the object and transmit its data over the network. As long as the client and server know what class is being used, this works.

However, not all programming languages can be serialized. Generally, this is only a feature of higher-level languages. .NET has it with the Serializable attribute for a class. For Java, the java.io.Serializable interface is used. Classes that implement this interface can be serialized. Even low-level languages such as C++ have the ability, albeit not in the standard library. The popular Boost C++ library has functions that provide the serialization ability.

However, there are also problems caused by serialization. Many languages do not have backwards compatibility. So if you write a new version of the program and try to use it with existing serialized data, it can fail. Fortunately, some languages do have backwards compatibility features that avoid this drawback.

Serialization is a useful tool that all programmers should know about. It provides an easy way to store program data permanently and transmit it between multiple computers. For languages where serialization libraries are built-in, this is generally very easy.

Choosing a Medical Transcription School

In addition to the medical transcription courses you can take at community colleges or trade schools, you can also complete a course online or have the course sent to your home to complete.

If you take an online course or are completing your course at home and are working at the time of taking your course, it can be very beneficial as you get to choose your own hours for studying and testing. If you are either not working or only working part time you can probably complete your course in less than 6 months. If you are working full time it will probably take you longer. It is up to you to choose the time frame you are comfortable with. There won’t be someone standing over you telling you to hurry up. You will set your own schedule and the amount of time you will be spending on your course.

When you are researching your school be sure you check out their support staff. This can be very important during your training. You want to be able to contact them and get a response quickly to your questions. A lot of the top schools have chat rooms and forums where you can communicate and interact with other students. This can be very helpful and can sometimes get you a lead to a job when you finish your schooling.

Your course should consist of not only textbook lessons but also in getting to transcribe actual doctor’s dictations. This is something you can really only learn by doing. One of the most important things you will need to learn is how to correctly interpret the doctor’s voice dictations. This will take practice. But the more that you practice the better prepared you will be to become a medical transcriptionist.

There are many medical procedures and fields that you will learn during your course. One of the most important is medical terminology. This is the basis for every medical term you will be typing. You will also be learning disease processes, some training in specialties such as gynecology, GI and GU, dermatology, chiropractic terms and procedures, physiology, and many others.

You need to have a broad knowledge of all different types of fields because you don’t know what your first position will be. Maybe working in a pediatrician’s office or a psychiatrist’s office. Working for a clinic is a good place to start and has a combination of many different diagnoses and treatments from a sore throat to a cut toe. It will be good experience to get you started on the right track.

A lot of the medical transcription schools have started giving some training in different types of medical transcription software and types of transcription equipment. With the internet playing such a large role in medical transcription today, you will need to familiarize yourself with different applications and transmission formats. You will need to have a compatible system with the health care providers you will be working for.

Do a thorough research of the many medical transcription school programs that are out there now. Find the one that suits your needs for convenience and financially. Some programs have a payment system for monthly payments, some require half down and monthly payments, and some require the entire fee up front.

Best Investment Ideas and Best Safe Investments for 2012

Here we list some of the best investment ideas and tackle the challenge of finding the best safe investments for 2012. What might appear to be one of the best investment ideas to the uninformed could turn out to be one of the worst.

Looking at the big picture for investment ideas in 2012, moderation in asset allocation and a balanced investment portfolio will be the most basic key to success. There are 4 asset classes, and average investors need to spread their money across at least the first three to keep their overall portfolio risk moderate. The 4 categories in asset allocation are: safe investments, bonds, stocks and alternative investments like gold and real estate (optional). Asset allocation can be simplified, because there are mutual funds available to average investors that represent each of the 4 asset classes. Now let’s get more specific about the best investment ideas for 2012 starting with safe investments.

Safe investments earn interest and do not fluctuate in price. You will need to look outside of mutual funds in 2012 to find the best safe investments because record low interest rates have taken yields on money market securities (and hence money market funds) down to just about zero. One of the best investment ideas if you have an account with a discount broker or major mutual fund company is to shop for one-year CDs paying higher rates if you can’t get competitive rates from your local bank. Do not tie your money up for longer periods just to earn a little more interest. One of these days interest rates will go back up and you will be locked in at a lower rate and face penalty charges if you cash in early.

Finding the best safe investments will be truly challenging in 2012, but here are some more investment ideas. If you are in a retirement plan like a 401k that has a fixed or stable account option do not overlook it. You can often get a much higher interest rate there (maybe 4% to 5%) than anywhere else outside of your retirement plan. If you own an older retirement annuity or universal life insurance policy, it might have a fixed account you can add money to that is guaranteed to never pay less than 3% or 4%. Remember, truly safe investments like U.S. Treasury bills and bank money market and savings accounts are paying WAY LESS than 1%!

Over the past 30 years bonds and bond funds have become a favorite with investors because they have been consistent performers and returned on average about 10% per year… basically about equal to what stocks have returned, but with considerably less risk. Many investors have fallen in love with their bonds funds and consider them to be among the world’s best safe investments. Bond funds are NOT safe investments. They have performed well since 1981 (when interest rates and inflation were at record highs) for one primary reason. Both inflation and interest rates have been falling for 30 years, which has sent bond prices higher. Loading up on bond funds now is NOT one of the best investment ideas for 2012. In fact, it is one of the worst investment ideas.

When interest rates and/or inflation turn around and head upward bond funds, especially those that hold long-term bond issues, will be losers. That’s how bonds work. One of the very best investment ideas for 2012 is to sell your long-term bond funds if you own any, and switch to funds holding bonds with average maturities of about five years. These are called intermediate-term bond funds; and average investors should have some money invested here as part of their asset allocation strategy to add balance to their investment portfolio. These are not truly safe investments, but they are much safer than long-term funds.

My best investment ideas in the stock department focus on stock funds. Do not go heavily into the more aggressive funds that invest primarily in growth and/or small company stocks. These pay little if anything in dividend income and tend to be more risky and volatile than the average stock fund. Go with funds that invest in high quality large-company stocks with excellent dividend paying histories. Look for funds that are paying 2% or more in dividends. One of the best investment ideas for 2012 and beyond: invest in no-load funds with low yearly expenses. No-load means no sales charges, and low expenses mean higher net returns to the investor.

Alternative investments include the likes of real estate, gold and other precious metals, natural resources, commodities, foreign investments and so on. One of the best investment ideas for managing a truly balanced investment portfolio is to include this fourth asset class as well. The simplest way for the average investor to add these alternatives to their portfolio is with mutual funds that specialize in these areas or sectors. My best investment ideas here: don’t go heavily into any one area, and don’t chase after a sector (like gold) just because it’s hot. Real estate and natural resources funds would be my picks as two of the best investment ideas in the alternative investments asset class.

Moderation and diversification across the asset classes will be the key to asset allocation in 2012. I have also listed some specific best investment ideas for keeping the average investor in the game and out of serious trouble should the investment scene turn ugly. Above all else memorize this: long-term bond funds are not among the best safe investments for 2012. They are not safe investments, period.

Building a Career Through Online Education Courses

Education is a systematic process of acquiring knowledge and skill necessary for personal growth and development. The practical application of education in a specific field of study can jumpstart a professional career or establish a foundation for possible business ventures. Making an investment in education can be one of your most significant and wisest decisions in life because of its immediate impact to your future. Distance education plays a vital role in connecting educators and learners worldwide, breaking the barriers imposed by time constraints, distance, disabilities and socio-economic status. Distance education courses are being offered by Open Institutions to answer the call for internationally recognised quality education and training. Whether you are a student who just started on the path of learning, a professional in your field of study and want to further your education through advanced and specialized programs, or a person who is restricted by travel or health concerns, online courses definitely have the answers for you.

Many individuals are asking on how effective distance education when delivering the methodologies of teaching. Online education classes are as effective as traditional face-to-face instruction done in colleges and universities. The keys to establishing a successful online study depend on the dedication and focus of the learner, and timely peer-support by the open institution. The people behind the curriculum and online support offered through distance education are professionals and experts in their field, so you can be sure of having the quality education and training that you are looking for. Online instruction is divided into four major classifications, namely: voice, video, data and print. Voice or use of audio as medium of communication includes the telephone, tapes, radio and audio-conferencing.

On the other hand, videos may come in the form of instructional tapes or CDs, or combined with voice and data as file attachments. Print media can be in the form of instructional books, guides, course outlines or assessments which are delivered through courier or mailing system. Data is the widely used form of instruction due to the advances in technology in computers and the internet. Information is transmitted electronically and may be in the form of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI), Computer Managed Instruction (CMI), Computer Mediated Education (CME), or a combination of any of these. The delivery of education and training became better, faster and economical since all the instructional materials and methods of teaching are coursed through e-mail (electronic email) or e-fax (electronic facsimile), online conferencing and other World-Wide Web applications. This would include advances in communication by utilizing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). By making use of all the available communication media, online learning study is delivered fast and efficient.

Distance learning has many advantages that individuals on different levels of learning can take advantage. It provides the flexibility of choice when you want to finish a course or where you want the training to take place. Assessments and projects are given at the end of a specified topic, submitted to education professionals and experts of their field for evaluation, and then feedback is given to determine if a learner is to advance to the next level or if further reading is required prior to advancement. You can never be too old or too young in order to start a life changing career, or build the basic foundation to start a new business. All you would need is the proper self-motivation and focus so you can look forward and fulfill your dreams in life.

Legal Protection for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Nigeria

For healthy and continuous in flow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to Nigeria, the country has over the years put in place friendly legal framework for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) protection.

In this Foreign Investors’ Guidelines for Doing Business in Nigeria Series, we shall be examining the legal mechanisms put in place for the purpose of encouraging an increasing FDIs inflow and ensuring foreign investors’ confidence in the country.

We shall be discussing foreign investors’ protections ranging from certainty of arbitral proceedings and other dispute resolution mechanisms in the country.

The fact with modern economic systems is that no country can be an island economically; Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) protection is very essential to the successful attainment of foreign investors’ business objective(s) and economic development of any economy.

There are steps that host countries can lawfully take in the exercise of their sovereignty and power can lead to depriving foreign investors of reaping the fruits of their investments.

Host government actions that can affect foreign investment adversely includes nationalization; the act of a government taking control of a private enterprise and converting it to state or public ownership.

Expropriation; the act of a government taking possession of or otherwise meddling with privately held assets or property for the use and benefit of the public, or in the public interest.

The legislative and administrative acts of the government as government action can also have adverse effects on foreign investors’ businesses in Nigeria.

This is the indirect or creeping form of expropriation. The only difference is that, it mode of operation shifted attention from the physical and actual taking-over of an investor’s assets to the legislative and administrative acts of the government.

While not depriving a foreign investor of the ownership of an asset in this type of government control, it is capable of significantly reducing the value of properties and investments of the foreign owner.

Foreign investors don’t like investing in country’s with risk such as arbitrary revocation of a license; permit or a concession after the investor has made the requisite investments.

The advancement and expansion of international business relationships and the importance of foreign direct investment to the economic development of Nigeria has made the country to put in place some foreign business protection laws for the purpose of encouraging foreign investors.

Nigeria has performed greatly in providing protections to potential foreign investors.

Investment Treaties

In spite of the provisions of Section 12 of the Nigerian Constitution, investment treaties entered by the country are binding on, and enforceable against Nigeria upon ratification under the principle of ‘pacta sunt servanda’.

Also, by a literal application of Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which provides that a treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in agreement with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty.

Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs): Nigeria entered into its first Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with Germany in 1979 which came into force in 1986.

According to finding from my investigation Nigeria has entered into 28 Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) between 1986 and November, 2015.

Of the total number, 13 are currently in force, 14 are signed and 1 repealed. The Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) currently in force are the ones entered into with Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and United Kingdom.

The 14 BITs which have been signed by Nigeria but are yet to enter into operation were signed as far as back as 1996.

In addition to the usual investment protection standards, these BITs provide that a contracting state shall not damage by irrational or unfair means the maintenance, management, disposal of investment in its territory of nationals or companies of the other Contracting Party.

And the same recompense for losses suffered due to a safety event made to a domestic investor shall be allowed to the investor from the other contracting state.

These BITs also provide for the right of subrogation allowing foreign investors to obtain suitable investment insurance and for these investment insurance providers to seek remedy on their behalf from Nigeria.

The BITs that are presently in force have also made satisfactory requirements for the standard investment protection. These include fair and equitable treatment, umbrella clauses, most favoured nation status, national treatment, obligations against arbitrary and discriminatory measures and security.

Multi-lateral Investment Treaties (MITs): Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) treaty is one of the famous MITs Nigeria have entered. The ECOWAS treaty was signed on 28th May 1975; it came in into force on the 20th June, 1975.

The treaty currently has 15 signatories who are member states of ECOWAS.

Article 2 of the Treaty gives ‘Community Enterprise’ status to businesses whose equity capital is owned by two or more member states, and citizens or institutions of the Community.

Article 16 of the Treaty provides that Community Enterprise shall be accorded favourable treatment with regards to incentives and advantages, and shall not be nationalised or expropriated by the government of any member state except for valid reasons of public interest, and subject to the payment of prompt and adequate compensation.

Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) investment treaty is another MIT Nigeria has entered into in relation with providing favourable conditions for foreign investments in the country.

OIC is a treaty with an Agreement on Promotion, Protection and Guarantee of Investments among Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which came into force in September, 1986.

Chapter 2 of the Treaty mandates all member states of the Organization of Islamic Countries to provide adequate security and protection to the invested capital of an investor who is a national of another contracting member state.

The terms of protection specifically include the enjoyment of equal treatment, undertaking not to adopt measures that may directly or indirectly affect the ownership of the investor’s capital or investment and not to expropriate any investment except it is in the public interest and on prompt payment of adequate compensation.

Host states are further obligated to guarantee free repatriation of any capital and returns due to an investor.

Conventions to which Nigeria is a Signatory:

The country is signatory to a number of Conventions which have been entered into for the purposes of protecting foreign direct investment.

The most significant convention in this regard is the Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention).

International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) as an arbitral institution under the World Bank Group is a fully integrated, self-contained arbitration institution that provides standard arbitration clauses, arbitration proceedings rules, arrangements for venues, financial arrangements and administrative supporting including the appointment of arbitrators to parties.

Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID) primarily provides for the settlement of investment disputes between investors and sovereign host states.

It has also taken the necessary legislative measures to make the Convention’s resolution effective in Nigeria by enacting it as a domestic legislature in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (Enforcement of Awards) Decree No. 49 of 1967.

Another significant investment protection convention Nigeria has entered into is the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

New York Convention was adopted by the United Nations in June, 1958 and it mandates domestic courts in signatory countries to give effect to arbitration agreements, and to also recognise and enforce valid arbitral awards given in other signatory states.

The New York Convention in other words is particularly significant for the enforcement of arbitral awards resulting from non-ICSID investment arbitration proceedings.

In an attempt to bring into conscious awareness the legal guidelines to undertaking business in Nigeria to intended foreign investors, we shall specifically be reviewing domestic legislations and investment treaties which collectively make up the legal framework for foreign investment protection in the country.

The Domestic Legal Framework:

The notable investment legislation in Nigeria is the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act, CAP N117 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (“NIPC Act”).

The NIPC Act provides the fundamental and suitable legal framework for the protection of foreign investors in the country. Part 5 of the NIPC Act provides that foreigners may invest and participate in any enterprise in Nigeria.

They are assured unrestricted transfer of funds attributable to the investment such as profits, dividends, payments in respect of loan servicing, and the remittance of proceeds obtained from the sale or liquidation of assets or any interest in the venture through an approved dealer in freely convertible currency.

Section 25 of the NIPC Act clearly provides that no enterprise shall be expropriated or nationalised without prompt payment of compensation; the same section also provides a protection clause to an investor to claim “creeping” expropriation by establishing that the acts complained of indirectly results to expropriation or have expropriatory tendency.

Lastly, the NIPC Act provides that disputes between a foreign investor and any government in Nigeria arising from an investment shall be submitted to arbitration within the framework of any investment treaty entered into between the government of Nigeria and any state of which the foreign investor is a national.

It further provides that where there is a disagreement between the Nigerian government and the foreign investor on the mode of dispute settlement, the dispute shall be submitted to ICSID for arbitration.

Foreign investor is thus at liberty in Nigeria to institute arbitration proceedings against a government even after bringing a claim or counterclaim against the government in a court or domestic arbitration.

Another domestic legislation that provides protection to foreign investors is the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions Act) CAP F34.

Section 15 of this Act provides that any person may invest in any business venture with foreign currency or capital imported into Nigeria through an authorized dealer who will issue a Certificate of Capital Importation to the foreign investor.

Sub-section (4) of the same section in addition guarantees unconditional transferability of funds in freely convertible currency of any such monies arising from an investment made in Nigeria with foreign currency, including dividends and profits, payments in respect of loan servicing, and remittances of the proceeds of sale or liquidation of assets.

A similar provision on repatriation is also found in Section 18 of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Act, CAPN107 (“NEPZA Act”).

Section 18 of the NEPZA Act provides that foreign investors who invest in outlined businesses within an export zone shall be eligible to remit profits and dividends earned in the zone and repatriate foreign capital investment at any time with capital appreciation of the investments.

Other foreign investors’ protection laws are the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The act gives foreign investors the opportunity to determine the mode of settling disputes that may arise out of their investments without resort to litigation in domestic (Nigeria) courts.

With the anticipation that such settlement will unfailingly and efficiently protect and enforce the rights of foreign investors and their investments provides a framework for domestic arbitration it also makes provisions for international commercial arbitration which is more preferable by foreign investors.

Section 56(2) (d) defines ‘international arbitration’ to include any arbitration that the parties have expressly agreed in the arbitration agreement to treat as international arbitration. The Act provides that every arbitration award is capable of enforcement under the New York Convention.

Nigeria’s entries into these investment treaties and its enactment of the Conventions into domestic legislation have made the protection mechanism part of Nigeria’s legal framework for protection of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) friendly and convenient to actual and potential foreign investors.

A Fragile Lifeline: Lessons I Learned Answering The Aids Hotline

Dial 1-800/AIDSNYC

Every Monday and Wednesday morning, promptly at 10 a.m., I leave behind

my daily life and turn to volunteering as an AIDS Hotline counselor at New York

City’s GMHC [Gay Men’s Health Crisis], the nation’s largest social service

agency for AIDS.

For the next four hours, my co-volunteers and I sit in front of a bank of

constantly-ringing telephones, talking to men, women, and teens who call in

from across the nation with urgent questions about AIDS, the ravaging disease

that has left 13.9 million people dead worldwide.

After almost 20 years, a whole generation, families are still facing the

heartache of tending the sick, while scientists continue to be confounded by

this stubborn, ravaging virus.

Although the federal government currently spends$4 billion per year on

AIDS research, and $15 billion worldwide, there is no cure in sight for the viral

infection and no vaccine available. Small wonder that the GMHC AIDS Hotline,

the nation’s first, is flooded with more than 40,000 calls each year.

Listening to callers 8 hours each week, I often think the Hotline is actually a

direct link to the soul of callers–an anonymous forum that allows each to

reveal secrets and fears that they might otherwise never discuss with anyone.

A Morning in May

This is the way it began: “Good morning, GMHC AIDS Hotline, can I help

you?”

“Yes…I have a question…[hesitantly] My son…he’s 21…and he just found

out…he’s HIV-positive [voice breaking] I’m…..alone, divorced. And I need some

help…someone to talk to…”

“Of course….happy to talk to you…it sounds like this has been devastating

for you….”

“It’s terrible. He told me two nights ago….he’s…he’s so young….I don’t

want him to die. He’s my only child….why did this have to happen?” [crying]

Her son, she explains, had sometimes neglected using condoms, convinced

he wouldn’t contract HIV infection from his female partners.

“How could he be so stupid?” she now asks angrily. “Why didn’t he know

how to protect himself? I don’t understand. What am I going to do?”

We talk for 35 minutes, and by the end of the conversation, I notice I’m

barely breathing. The distraught woman’s anguish is palpable. Her situation is

every mother’s worst nightmare.The life of her child is in jeopardy and she

feels helpless and afraid. I can’t imagine anything worse.

During the call, I do my best to employ the GMHC Hotline protocol of “active

listening,” which involves using silence, empathy and gentle probing with

open-ended questions. I’m also having my own emotional reaction to the panic

in her voice, and I’m worried about whether I’m doing enough.

Toward the end of the clal, when she exclaims: “I don’t want my baby to

die,” my heart plummets: “I know….I understand that, but there is hope,” I tell

her. I find myself on the verge of tears.

The Bad News

This mother’s story is too common. According to the Centers for Disease

Control in Atlanta, Ga., 40,000 Americans (half of them under 25) are newly

infected with the AIDS virus each year. Unprotected sex and intravenous drug

use remain the principal modes of   transmission .

“Teenagers,” notes AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor, “are being very hard hit.”

She refers to the three million adolescents who contract a sexually-transmitted

disease annually.

“Heterosexual teenage football players who are healthy and drink milk can

get it too!” says the 71-year-old actress, who has singlehandedly raised $150

million for AIDS research. “But teens are very ignorant and feel invincible. They

believe there’s an invisible shield protecting them from the virus, when it’s

actually aimed right at them.”

Taylor believes in addressing the problem head-on: “Tell your teenage son:

‘Maybe a condom doesn’t feel as good, but if it saves your life, it’s better than

being six feet under.’ Intelligence must replace random sex.”

Although a new generation of AIDS-fighting medications is prolonging the

lives of thousands, nearly half of the 900,000 people infected with HIV in the

U.S. cannot afford these drugs. Since the virus was discovered in l981, 410,800

Americans have died from AIDS-related complications, and the disease has left

13.9 million dead worldwide.

Who Calls a Hotline?

Not long ago I took a call from a 15-year-old boy living in a small town who

said he feels guilty about his sexual attraction to other boys and is scared to

discuss this with his parents. I ask him if there’s a school counselor or relative

he might talk to, but he says he’s too afraid to confide in anyone.

Being a teenager is hard enough, I thought, without the pressure of

keeping this kind of secret. I felt angry and saddened that this child can’t

comfortably discuss his feelings with his own parents.

I encourage him to call the Gay Community Center Youth Program in a

nearby city. In the meantime, I assured him that he could call our Hotline

anytime, that we’d be there for him.

This call was typical of the many we get from teenagers,whispering from

their parents’ homes, confiding their blossoming sexual feelings and concerns.

Our Hotline also receives calls from married men who phone from their offices,

worried about extramarital sexual encounters; gay men suffering side effects

from medications; mothers caring for a sick child or grieving for one lost to

AIDS; even health care professionals themselves confused and requiring

burnout support.

One particular morning, I’m struck by the number of single women who

turn to our hotline for help. At 10:15 a.m. a distraught young woman calls,

explaining that she had been dating someone “very charismatic,” after a two-

year period of sexual abstinence.

“At first we used condoms and I was taking the pill to avoid pregnancy,” she

says. But after her partner assured her he was HIV-negative, the couple began

having unprotected sex. A few months into the relationship, she recounts, his

behavior became “unpredictable,” until he finally admitted he was sleeping with

other women and was addicted to heroin. Now she has to withstand the

“terror” of waiting 3 months before getting an HIV antibody test. To help her

cope, I give her the names of three terapists in her area. The call lasts 43

minutes.

At 11:15 a.m. I take a call from a woman who is breathing heavily.

She says that four months earlier she’d had a brief affair with a limousine

driver, “not out of passion, but because I felt lonely. This was so totally unlike

me,” she continues. “I come from a traditional Orthodox Jewish family…”

Although they used condoms, and she has since tested negative for HIV, she

feels deeply ashamed, and has stopped seeing him. And because she has both

a persistent vaginal yeast infection and a rash on her neck, she’s convinced she

must be infected by HIV.

Although rashes, high fever, swollen lymph glands, heavy night sweats, sore

throat, or other flu-like symptoms may indicate HIV, they can just as easily

accompany the common cold or flu, or other type of infection. I encourage her

to seek medical help and counseling, but the calls ends on a down note. “I

must have it [AIDS],” she moans. I’m exasperated because it doesn’t sound

that way to me, yet I can’t get through to her. The call lasts 22 minutes.

It’s 11.38 a.m. when a well-spoken woman, who says she’s an attorney,

calls from her office, asking for the names of anonymous testing sites. At first

very businesslike, she calmly takes down all the information. I ask her why

she’s considering a test. Total silence. Then she begins to cry: “I….I can’t

talk….I’m sorry…you see, I have swollen lymph glands….[crying]….And my

doctor wants to rule out HIV…I feel overwhelmed…” Then, abruptly: “Where

can I send a donation?” She thanks me and hurries off the phone after just 3

minutes.

These were one-time callers, but, as in any epidemic, an element of panic

prevails, and our hotline also attracts an army of “chronic” or repeat callers

who are intensely fearful no matter how benign their risk, many revealing

continued misconceptions and paranoia about a disease that can be effectively

prevented. We do our best to help them, but often they’re impervious to

counseling.

Most poignant are calls we get from AIDS patients, phoning from their

hospital beds, attempting to navigate the exhausting labyrinth of insurance

and health care matters. One man, in hospice care, said he craved

companionship and missed the “good old days” when he was handsome and

healthy.

That call was a tough one for me as just the day before a close friend of

mine, Joe, who had battled HIV for 16 years, had finally succumbed. Although

at the end Joe was a mere skeleton, he was nonetheless at peace. “I’ve done

what I wanted to,” he told me on our last visit. An avid gardener, he insisted

on a final trip to his country house to see his garden one last time. For a

moment the caller’s reality and the memory of my deceased friend blurred in

my mind and I was overcome. Time for a break.

Face to Face

One of the most and unique services GMHC offers is called “A-Team

Counseling,” a one-time, in-person session that’s free and anonymous.

Recently, I was on an A-Team counselling a 26-year-old HIV-infected

mother from the Midwest. She had traveled to Manhattan by bus to find her

estranged boyfriend, who, she recounted tearfully, had kidnapped her 7-year-

old son. Disheveled, painfully thin, the woman was a disturbing sight. She’s

learned that the two had already returned home where the boyfriend was, and

the child put in his grandmother’s custory. custody of his grandmother.

Meanwhile she’d run out of money for the return trip, been refused a loan by

her family, lost her ID, gone hungry and spent two nights on the street.

Fortunately, this woman was registered at a local AIDS organization in her

town. I telephoned her caseworker and persuaded him to buy her a one-way

Greyhound bus ticket for $115.00. I also gave her subway tokens, a basket of

food, juice and coffee. Smiling shyly, she thanked me for caring.

Shaking hands good-bye with this woman was a bittersweet farewell. What

will happen to her? I wondered will her health deteriorate or improve? Will she

gain control of her life and be able to provide for her son? I’ll never know. One

thing I do know: She’d appeared with the sorrow of a difficult life in her eyes,

but when she left, she was elated at the thought of being reunited with her

child. It seems that with faith and a helping hand, almost anything is possible.

* * * * *

10 BIGGEST MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT AIDS AND HIV

(This list would probably be most effective when presented in a vertical chart,

the misconception on the left, the correct answer on the right.)

1)The AIDS virus can be transmitted through saliva, sweat, tears, urine or feces;

also through deep kissing.

1) HIV can ONLY be transmitted through four bodily fluids: blood, semen,

vaginal secretions and breast milk–and can also be transmitted from a mother

to her child before birth, during birth, or while breast feeding. The exchange

of saliva through kissing is no-risk, unless the saliva has blood in it and both

you and your partner are bleeding in the mouth simultaneously.

2) HIV may also be transmitted through casual contact with an infected person.

2) You can’t get infected from toilet seats, phones or water fountains. The virus

can’t be transmitted in the air through sneezing or coughing. You can’t get

HIV from sharing utensils or food or from touching, or hugging. HIV dies after

being exposed to the air. Therefore, touching dried blood on a shaving blade, a

toothbrush or a bathroom counter top is no risk. In any case, unbroken skin is

impermeable, like a rubber raincoat, and cannot absorb the virus whether it’s

alive or dead.

Blood transfusions and medical procedures in the U.S. are safe. Giving blood is

completely risk-free. The chance of getting HIV from dentists or other health

care providers is too low even to measure.You can’t get it from mosquitoes or

other insect or animal bites.

3) Oral sex is just as risky as vaginal or anal intercourse.

3) Although not 100% risk-free, oral sex is considered a low-risk

activity,except if: you have bleeding gums, recent dental work, open sores such

as a herpes lesion, any cut, blister, or burn in the mouth, or if you’ve just

brushed or flossed your teeth. Also, oral sex with an infected woman is riskier

if she is having her period, since menstrual blood can contain HIV. Overall,

latex barriers, (such as condoms or dental dams) used during oral sex reduce

the  transmission  of not just HIV, but other sexual transmitted diseases.

4) Animal skin, latex and polyurethane condoms are all equally effective in

preventing HIV infection and you can use ANY lubrication on the condom

desired.

4)Only latex or polyurethane condoms may be used, as HIV can pass through

an animal skin condom. With latex condoms, only water-based lubricants–like

K-Y jelly or H-R jelly–may be used. No lubricants with oil, alcohol, or grease

are safe.Petroleum jelly,Vaseline, Crisco, mineral oil, baby oil, massage oil,

butter and most hand creams can weaken the condom and cause it to split.

However, with polyurethane condoms, petroleum-based lubricants can be

used.

5) Women have to rely on men using condoms during intercourse to protect

themselves against HIV.

5) Women may employ the “female condom,” a plastic sheath that can be

inserted in their vaginas and used for protection against HIV. It can be inserted

up to 8 hours before sex, has rings at both ends to hold it in place and can be

lubricated with oil-based lubricants that stay wet longer. In addition, women

can carry conventional condoms for their male partners’ use.

6) If a woman is HIV-positive, her offspring will automatically be born infected

with HIV.

6) With no medical treatment taken, about 25% of HIV-positive women will

give birth to infants who are also infected. However, the use of anti-HIV

medications has resulted in a significant decrease of mother-to-child

 transmission  of HIV in utero and during delivery to less than 5%. (NYT 10/19/

99].

7) AIDS is fundamentally a gay disease contracted by white males.

7) Recent data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

indicate that young gay Hispanic and African-American men and heterosexual

women are the fastest growing segment of the population being infected with

HIV. Women now account for 43% of all HIV infected people over age 15. [NYT

11/24/98] African-American and Hispanic women account for more than 76%

of AIDS cases among women in the U.S.

8) Heterosexual men are not really at risk for contracting HIV, even if they

don’t use condoms.

8) The inside opening of the penis is composed of highly-absorbent, sponge-

like mucous membrane tissues, which can provide a route for HIV-infected

vaginal secretions or blood to enter the bloodstream. Proper condom use

protects men from infection.

9) The AIDS epidemic is largely over because new AIDS medications like

protease inhibitors and others have turned AIDS into a chronic, not a terminal

disease.

9) In the U.S., AIDS is the fifth leading cause of death for people 25-44 years

old. Roughly half of all those infected with HIV in the U.S. are not receiving any

medications or medical care. AIDS now kills more people worldwide than any

other infection, including malaria and tuberculosis.[NYT 11/24/98] In 1998

alone, 2.5 million people died of AIDS worldwide. 13.9 million people have

died since the virus was discovered in 1981.

10) If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV through unprotected sex, you can

take an HIV antibody test 2 weeks later and get an accurate result.

10) The standard “window” or waiting period remains a full 3 months. However,

because the widely-used HIV antibody tests (The ELISA and Western Blot) have

become so sensitive, about 95% of people will procure an accurate result 4-6

weeks after a possible exposure to the virus.

* * * *

[Note:The information stated above was reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr.

Todd J. Yancey, an infectious disease specialist practicing in New York City and

affiliated with New York Presbyterian Hospital, NY, Cornell Campus.]

THE CHILD LIFE PROGRAM

“Mommy takes a lot of medicine and Mommy’s really tired sometimes and she

can’t take you to the park as much as she used to. It’s not that I don’t love

you…and that I don’t want to…but Uncle Jack’s going to take you to the park

today.” –A mother living with AIDS, a client at GMHC, talking to her 6-year-

old son.

In New York City alone, 28,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS since the

epidemic began [NYT 12/13/98]

GMHC’s unique Child Life Program serves HIV-infected parents and their

children–who may, or may not, be infected with the virus. “We help families

strengthen their ability to cope, relieve the pressure of parenting with support

services, and teach parents how to talk to their kids,” says Child Life Program

Coordinator Alison Ferst. “Unfortunately, should a parent or child be sick

enough to be facing death, we also help them walk through it with grace and

dignity—as opposed to feeling alone, isolated and frightened.

“We also encourage sick parents to make stable legal plans for their

children who may be left behind,” adds Ferst, “and to have disclosure

conversations with the children in advance, so you don’t have a child standing

at her mother’s funeral, not sure where she’s going next.”

When an HIV-infected Mom arrives at GMHC to have lunch, attend a support

group, consult with a lawyer, or access the acupuncture clinic, she can leave

her children in a spacious playroom, decorated with fanciful murals and a giant

tree hand-painted by the famed children’s story writer and illustrator, Maurice

Sendak, who donated his art. [see photos] The program provides: child-

sitting, nutrition services, a food pantry, art and magic classes, and

recreational trips–church picnics, seasonal apple-pumpkin picking,

amusement parks, zoos, museums, beaches. Also: homework help sessions,

holiday parties, hospital visits, summer sports and weekly support groups for

HIV- positive parents and their HIV-negative children.

This unique program also features: Cooking classes for kids who sometimes

prepare meals for sick parents; Pediatric Buddies, GMHC adult volunteers who

play with sick children and also assist with family chores; Fun With Feelings

Support Group, Friday Evening Family Time, Birthday parties, and a Holiday Gift

Drive.

“Children infected or affected by AIDS,” concludes Ferst, “want to be like

other kids: They want to play with their friends, want to know that someone

will always take care of them, want to know they’re not alone, and often

wonder if it’s their fault when Mom or Dad gets sick.” These children need a

helping hand and any of us can provide one.