Getting to zero is hope in fight against AIDS

Globally, more than 34m people are believed to be living with HIV. World AIDS Day raises awareness of the prevalence of the pandemic and the continuing need for campaigns to tackle it.

Fire Mugwisi
Fire Mugwisi

The day is a chance for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with the virus and to commemorate those who have died.

The first World AIDS Day in 1988 was the first-ever global health day. This year’s theme is Getting to Zero – zero infections, zero deaths and zero discrimination.

Kimion Tagwireyi, a journalism lecturer at a private college in Marondera, said he knew his status and encouraged others who did not to get tested so that they could adjust their sexual behaviour accordingly.

“Zimbabweans have accepted the reality that HIV is there and the majority of them have changed their attitudes towards those affected. Stigmatisation has been reduced significantly since everyone knows of people affected with the virus

“I am aware that there are nearly a million orphans in Zimbabwe and the fact that only one per cent of babies born to HIV positive mothers has the virus. I don’t discriminate against people with HIV and would assist them should they need help.”

A loss controller from Chihota, Marondera West, Fire Mugwisi, said he regularly got checked for his HIV status.

“Zimbabweans in general no longer discriminate against people with HIV, since everyone knows of someone close who has either died from the virus or is living with it.”

Lazarus Maurukira from the University of Zimbabwe said that he made it a habit to get tested for HIV every six months so that he could plan and manage his life responsibly.

“I have made it routine to get checked for my medical status in light of HIV. I am a responsible parent and would provide necessary assistance to people living with the virus. I know of people living with AIDS and, with education, they are not discriminated against by society.”

Dr Chihiro Ito, a Japanese researcher working in Zambia and Zimbabwe, said she did not know her status regarding HIV but would like to be tested.

“I am already working with a Kariba-based AIDS network organisation, which provides services to those affected with HIV.” Valerie Chidakwa, a Harare-based bio-technician, said she was aware of her HIV status and encouraged other students to get tested. “I am a facilitator with the Jesuit AIDS Project and it was imperative that I knew my status, since my responsibilities involve providing counseling services to young people.”

Richard Khosa of St Marys, Chitungwiza said he was tested for HIV early last year and would be tested at the beginning of 2014. “I resolved to get tested once every year, with prospects of reducing the regularity to less than six months in due course. The fact that the majority of babies born to mothers with HIV are negative for the virus is encouraging. I know of hundreds of people with HIV, including friends and other members of my community.”

Jessica Nduna of Domboshava said: “I know of relatives, neighbours and close friends with HIV. I treat them like every other member of the community since they need social acceptance to live normal lives. With good sexual behaviour and recommended diet, people with HIV can live on drugs for years. I am glad that advanced medical research has made HIV status a manageable condition.

“Though cases of babies born to mothers with HIV are reasonably low, the fact that life expectancy in Zimbabwe remains the lowest in the region is cause for concern.”

Alfred Gumbodete of Marondera said he wanted to know why Zimbabwe had one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in Africa, yet enjoyed the highest literacy rate on the continent.

“Government and NGOs should preach HIV campaigns in all corners of the country on a daily basis,” he said.

David Madziwa of Epworth, Harare, said he last got tested long ago. “In my area, there are some people with HIV whom I provide with assistance when they need it. My community is both sympathetic and accommodating to people with the virus. With a joint effort, I would love a situation whereby no baby is born with HIV.

Post published in: News

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