HIV/ AIDS: education - “weapon of mass protection”.

2015-11-30 20:57

Regrettably, religious and cultural morality has to be adapted or compromised to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexual diseases.

Abstaining completely from sex is unnatural and saying “no” to sex can be difficult, but having sex has consequences. Abstinence from sex before marriage, is the only rational approach to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), teenage pregnancy and other personal problems that accompany sexual escapades.

Unfortunately, it is clear today that messages about safe sex, saving sex for marriage and the harms of unlawful sexual activities are not getting through and precautionary measures are not taken. Hence, a completely religious approach to HIV/AIDS and related issues that is limited to talking and empathy is insufficient.

Religious and traditional leaders need to revisit their views and language on the usage of condoms. Some religious and traditional leaders’ blanket resistance to condoms usage hurts the fight to curb the spread of HIV. By asking religious and traditional leaders to revisit their views on condoms, I am not sanctioning the promotion of condoms in learning institutions, like schools or sex outside marriage, but I am suggesting it be allowed for specific medical needs. Let me be clear I am not asking for condoms to be distributed in schools as I believe distribution of condoms in schools could never be a good thing. We need to teach pupils to abstain and handing out condoms to school children is a big No No.

Together with promoting abstinence from pre-marital sex and the harms of illicit multiple sex partners, clear and open guidelines regarding condom use should be available as complementary alternatives.

Condoms have an important role to play in the prevention of STD’s, especially in HIV reinfection, or super infection, as it is sometimes called. Different strains of HIV can be passed between two HIV infected people, making treatment even more difficult. With no cure or vaccine in existence or in sight, correct education remain the greatest “weapon of mass protection”.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region worst-affected by HIV and AIDS. HIV/AIDS in South Africa is a prominent health concern; South Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS compared to any other country in the world with 5, 6 million people living with HIV, and 270,000 HIV related deaths recorded in 2011. (UNAIDS).

Many factors contribute to the spread of HIV. These include: poverty; inequality and social instability; high levels of sexually transmitted infections; the low status of women; sexual violence; high mobility (particularly migrant labour); limited and uneven access to quality medical care; and a history of poor leadership in the response to the epidemic. (Aids Foundation of South Africa).

Well thought out educational programs and constructive awareness campaigns are important tools to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Every individual can and should play a meaningful role in HIV prevention. With no cure or vaccine in existence or in sight, correct guidance and education remains the greatest “weapon of mass protection”.

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