Politicians reflect on personal HIV stories

2015-12-01 22:40

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Cape Town - To live with HIV, there must be a will, and acceptance.

And the very fragile population of young women needs to be protected to stop the spread of the infection.

This is according to political parties, who on Tuesday recounted their personal fears and lessons learnt from those living with HIV.

Congress of the People deputy general secretary, Deidre Carter, said the subject was close to her heart as she had someone close to her who had been living with the disease since he was 18.

"And he is now almost 50. He made a wrong choice when he was younger, but is such a success in his life. He picked up the pieces, young as he was, and continued with life. His choices and the way he lives his life has taught me a lot about acceptance. How sometimes people can be in such denial when a loved one finds out they are HIV positive."

She said another lesson learnt from him was to value time.

"Your time is your time. He has been in car accidents where others have died, his school friends are almost all gone due to 'normal' causes, and he is still doing well."

Carter said there were still a lot of gaps in the system in terms of caring for those who were living with HIV.

One of them, she said, included the fact that some of the medication had to be refrigerated immediately upon delivery.

"And some people don’t know that. Also, some people living with HIV might not even own a fridge for that matter. Also, the pills need to be taken after a meal. But how many people living with HIV know where their next meal is coming from?"

She said the conditions of the disability grant for those living with HIV also created a cycle where people who were on the grant did not want to get tested for fear of losing it should their CD4 count be too high.

'Young people need to be taught about protection'

DA health spokesperson Dr Wilmot James said as a father of two daughters, his greatest worry was that young women were not being looked after in the country.

Making an example of clinic visits and dealing with people who were living with HIV, vulnerability in young women made them targets.

This, he said, was sometimes due to desperation as they did not have work, or generate any income, making them easy targets.

"It is a very fragile population that needs to be targeted in lessons about protection."

James said schools had a very special responsibility in teaching young women about protection, as sometimes parents did not want to think about their children as sexually active.

'HIV still a harsh reality'

ANC Youth League President Collen Maine said in a statement that a multi-faceted approach was needed to fight HIV/Aids.

"We maintain that though gone is the era when HIV/AIDS would be seen as a death sentence and all manners of stigmas attached to it, it continues to impose harsh economic and psychological realities on the vast majority of our people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, particularly so the poor and the workers from across our townships, informal settlements and rural communities.

"No longer can we treat HIV/AIDS as a disease that should only be fought through healthcare systems."

The theme for this year’s World Aids Day in the country is "Rise, Act, Protect".

Circumcision

The EFF called on all men to get circumcised to reduce the spread of HIV/Aids.

"However, above all, preventative measures are the greatest weapon to fight against more infections and ensure that we stop HIV/AIDS from extending to the next generation. The EFF therefore calls on all men who have not undergone circumcision to do so as it reduces the risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS infection by 60%," EFF spokesperson and MP Mbuyiseli Ndlozi said.

Read more on:    cope  |  da  |  eff  |  ancyl  |  health

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