Monday, June 25

Let's Fight AIDS with Baseball (And Money)

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO FIGHTING HIV/AIDS.

    1.  Oh… hi there…  I’m Jose Melendez.  You might remember me as a whimsical blogger from such championship seasons as 2004 and 2007.  I’d like to drop the silliness, the third person and the outdated references to Cesar Crespo for a moment and focus on an issue that is really important to me.

Did you know that in Africa, every… let’s say 30 seconds, a child is born who will suffer a life of deprivation…

Yes, every day across the African continent thousands of children come into the world who will never know that there is a game called baseball, much less that the Red Sox are good and the Yankees are evil.

It’s heartbreaking isn’t it?

It makes you feel powerless? Like you wish there were something you could do?

Well now there is.  You can join me and all your SoSH friends in making a contribution to the fight against the scourge of baseball ignorance.  Also, your contribution will fight HIV/AIDS, which I understand is also a problem of some kind.  Watch this video and learn how SoSH can fightHIV/AIDS.

SoSH is partnering with Support for International Change (SIC), an internationally registered charity, to raise money for the SoSH Tags AIDS Truck Service, or STATS, a rugged vehicle that will be able to trek up the tough, muddy roads around Arusha, Tanzania and into rural villages to provide HIV testing and education and show how awesome the Red Sox are. 

All we need is to raise $40,000.  I know, I know that’s not a lot of money to Jon Lackey, but to a small charity in rural Tanzania and the people it serves it can make all the difference.  To learn the details of SIC’s work and review their annual reports and accountability ratings visit their Web site here

Today, SIC’s ability to work in rural villages is compromised by its reliance on vehicles that are kind of like Alex Rodriguez—old, broken down and costly to maintain.  These clunkers make it nearly impossible to get out to the villages where people need education and testing the most. 

The STATS will solve this problem instantly.  Additionally, the STATS will be tricked out by skilled local artists with scenes of Red Sox glory, bringing knowledge of baseball along with knowledge of how to prevent HIV.

But how will we choose which images from Red Sox history are truck worthy? 

Pay to play baby!!!

The top two donors will each get to choose a picture for the left and right sides of the truck.   A third image for either the hood or the trunk, will be chosen on the basis of a vote.  Just make a nomination in this thread when you donate.

Over time, the relationship between SoSH and SIC will grow.  SIC will provide video of the STATS doing its work in rural communities, of villagers, online chats with SIC staff and villagers chanting “Let’s Go Sox.”   But for this to happen we need your help.  So donate now at

  1. Now that Jose has made the “ask” up front, Jose wants to return to his customary third person and to try to educate the good people of SoSH on how one combats HIV/AIDS in Africa, the best way he knows how—through a series of inapt baseball metaphors.

HIV education—at the core of SIC’s work—is like pitching.  It is the initial step in combating HIV and relies on changing speeds and methods of delivery.  To be effective, HIV education takes a variety of forms.  Sometimes posters around town, other times direct education. Other times plays, music and dance.  The key is to keep the ball coming from all different angles and at all different speeds.

The second part is prevention, which you should think of as defense.  Remember two years ago when the Red Sox adopted a “run prevention” approach to winning games?  HIV prevention is a lot like that, except it works. 

There are three key elements to prevention.  The first is abstinence, which is like a strike out.  If the ball never gets into play, it can’t do any damage.  But we’re realistic people; we know that even Pedro at his best wasn’t striking out 27 guys.  Balls are going to get into play. 

That’s why you have an infield—in this case monogamy, being faithful.  If the ball is in play, your best chance to prevent a run is by keeping it… close to home.

Finally, there’s condom use—the outfield of HIV prevention.  Things happen.  Pitchers hang curveballs.  People have sex outside of stable relationships.  When that happens, it’s awfully good to have a… glove… in the outfield ready to catch anything that could turn into trouble.

That brings us to testing, SIC's other core mission.  Testing is like the data a manager uses to make decisions.  When people know their HIV status they can make good decisions about sexual activity and breastfeeding and doctors can make good decisions about how to treat them.  A patient or doctor without a known HIV status is like a manager without stats—he’s going by hunches, and Jose doesn’t know about you, but he would not want Joe Morgan making medical decisions for him.

Finally, offense comes into play—treatment.  Gone are the days when HIV drugs were an underwhelming crew of Mike Lansings and Dante Bichettes—ineffective and largely toxic.  Today, HIV drugs are more like David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia, potent, effective and strong in combination. 

Patients getting these drugs can live long productive lives and don’t have to die of HIV/AIDS.  Moreover, they’re less likely to transmit HIV to other people so fewer people get infected.  SIC doesn’t directly provide drugs, but the STATS will help connect patients with Tanzania’s Ministry of Health, which provides free antiretroviral drugs to everyone who needs them. 

Building this connection is part of what makes SIC’s model sustainable. To put up a winning record against HIV/AIDS over the long run, Tanzania needs a good farm system.  SIC isn’t like a high priced free agent that comes in for a year or two, has a few successes and then moves on leaving nothing of permanent value.  Instead, SIC is developing home grown, Tanzanian talent that can provide pitching, defense and hitting now and in the future.

3. So here’s where it gets interesting.  In order to encourage you to give, Jose is going to lay down a challenge.

Jose Melendez will start the donations with a $500 contribution.  If at least two people don’t make bigger donations, Jose will elect to have one of the images on the STATS be Carlos Quintana doing a split while making a play at first.

Do you want Tanzanians to think Carlos Quintana is the greatest Red Sox of all time?  No?  Then go to and donate now.

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO FIGHTING HIV/AIDS.