By Sandi Halimuddin
During 2009, UW professor of forest resources, Bolton researched the linkages between HIV/AIDS and the environment for the International Union for Conservation in Kenya. In contrast to prevalent academic health literature, which primarily focuses on prevention and treatment, Bolton investigated ultimate causes related to vulnerability to HIV/AIDS
In “Interactions between HIV/AIDS and the Environment,” Bolton and Anna Talman from the UW Department of Global Health, assert that poverty is the keystone to decreased coping ability and increased vulnerability amongst those HIV
“It’s difficult to separate HIV and poverty; HIV is a much more debilitating disease than poverty,” said Bolton.
Bolton, adjunct professor of global health and civil and environmental engineering, witnessed unsustainable farming practices used by those living with HIV. She explained that an immediate need for HIV treatment drugs prompted several farmers to adopt environmentally degrading farming techniques or sell their livestock for fast cash.
Bolton additionally expressed her concern that this behavior amongst farmers living with HIV /AIDS will contribute to “the loss of institutional memory.” This implies long-term ecological consequences when children do not know how to farm sustainably.
Although it is difficult to conceptualize the ramifications of environmental issues and climate change on individual health, it is important to note “how various systems function and interact during [specific] situations,” said Bolton.