TOWARDS AN AIDS FREE GENERATION

2012-11-27 10:39

Well done and congratulations to every South African. The various increased investments in the AIDS response are producing results for communities and Countries.

According to an article, published by Political Analysis South Africa, HIV/AIDS is on the decrease. This accomplishment reflects political engagement, strong civil society involvement, decentralised service delivery and empowerment of nurses to administer antiretroviral prophylaxis. (www.politicalanalysis.co.za/2011/11/22/hivaids-on-the-decrease).

We should continue to exert our efforts, energies and finances towards Zero AIDS related deaths. We need to sustain the pressure on alleviating AIDS in order to save lives and reach the goal of zero new HIV infections.

The HIV/AIDS scourge is one of the most dreadful diseases present today and has become a cruel reality. No other words create as much panic and utter helplessness as AIDS.

HIV/ AIDS is a medical condition like any other health condition in that it requires a vigilant, well thought-out response based on facts and not rumours or prejudices. Effective awareness campaigns, abstaining from sex until marriage, being faithful to our spouses, leading a healthy lifestyle, removing the stigma and myths attached to HIV/ AIDS victims and testing are significant ways to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

World AIDS Day on 1 December is a global day dedicated to raising awareness about HIV/ AIDS and showing support for people living with the disease.

The main step in protecting oneself from getting infected is awareness. Whether you are infected or not it is essential to know your status. Also, by knowing the methods of transmission, people can stay away from any risky sources of infection and thus reduce the spread of HIV/ AIDS.

Unfortunately, at times HIV/ AIDS patients face discrimination and stigmatisation. Stigmatisation is an obstruction in the battle against HIV/ AIDS because people who think they might have the disease are reluctant to test themselves for fear of being discriminated against by their spouse, family and community. This increases the risk of it spreading to others. Some HIV/ AIDS patients may not be even responsible for carrying or having the disease. Discriminating and stigmatising others due to their misfortunes is not the behaviour and conduct of human beings. Instead, we should help them get proper treatment and care. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder jointly to reach zero discrimination.

Living with HIV/ AIDS in rural areas still seems to pose many challenges like having to travel long distances for HIV/AIDS care, stigma, myths, migration and poverty and having fewer local resources for health care. Recently we visited a rural area in order to create breast cancer awareness and found that an individual, who was wrongly believed to have had AIDS, was being stigmatised by the community. When one of the field workers from CANSA, who accompanied us, explained to them the reality, there was “jubilation”

Abstaining completely from sex is unnatural and saying “no” to sex can be difficult but having sex is a serious engagement that has consequences. The abstinence message embraces not only religious and cultural values but also universal values. Abstinence is the only rational approach to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy and other personal problems that accompany sexual escapades.

One of the many ways we can take strong action on HIV/AIDS is by getting tested. Through HIV/AIDS testing, uninfected individuals can take steps to avoid from becoming infected, while infected individuals can avoid transmission to their spouses or children. Moreover, knowing your status is the first step in referral to care and support services.

One of the best ways to protect the next generation is to make sure that we continue to educate our youth, using correct methodology, with even the most sensitive of health issues in order to bring about awareness of unacceptable behaviour, the dangers of a permissive culture and risky activities.

Moreover, awareness programmes must also be accompanied by political action that challenges the unjust social conditions which contribute to the spread of diseases or make recovery much more difficult.

Regrettably, some communities and individuals are still in a state of denial about HIV/ AIDS. Therefore, in the face of the grave health risks confronting South African youth, communities can no longer afford to maintain its current state of denial.

Imagine the possibilities of an HIV and AIDS free generation.

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