Traditional leaders unite in HIV fight

2016-12-07 06:01
PHOTO: jonathan burton Umgungundlovu mayor, Councillor Thobekile Maphumulo (right) and the U.S. Ambassador Patrick Gaspard at a recent dialogue session held as a run-up to World Aids Day.

PHOTO: jonathan burton Umgungundlovu mayor, Councillor Thobekile Maphumulo (right) and the U.S. Ambassador Patrick Gaspard at a recent dialogue session held as a run-up to World Aids Day.

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UMGUNGUNDLOVU remains the highly disease-burdened district with a high number of HIV infected individuals.

The district currently has a 42.6% HIV infection rate which has been increasing consistently over the years.

In response to the ongoing high rate of HIV infections, the Umgungundlovu District Aids Council, in partnership with the District Department of Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs, launched an HIV/Aids action committee of traditional leaders to tackle issues of HIV in the communities, led by the traditional leaders, and to tackle the stereotypical beliefs around leaders and their apathy on engaging communities on HIV/Aids issues.

Some of the objectives and projects implemented include promoting male medical circumcision and HIV counselling and testing (HCT) among other health related programmes.

In Umgungundlovu district, the scourge of HIV has been influenced by misguided myths and stereotypical beliefs. These kind of misguided beliefs prompted traditional leaders to unite for a common cause, to advance positive healthy lifestyles and assist in eliminating and mitigating the effects of the pandemic.

The traditional leaders took it upon themselves to serve in their own communities as ambassadors for the HIV/Aids programme and help address the misguided myths.

The traditional leaders’ commitment has attracted interest from various local, national and international organisations, including the U.S. Embassy.

The U.S. Embassy is supporting the district with its Pepfar/USAid funding in helping the district address its high HIV burden and related social ills.

The Umgungundlovu district is a recipient of the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, Aids-free, Mentored and Safe (Dreams) programme aimed at addressing the HIV burden mostly among young girls and women in Umgungundlovu. The traditional leaders have been consulted and trained and have adopted the programme in their various communities. |

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