As a result of his status his relatives and friends shunned him and he became severely depressed. Had it not been for his wife, who closely monitored him, he would have committed suicide.
Hope for life was restored when he joined a group that is encouraging other males to fight the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS. Called Men’s Community Against HIV and AIDS (MCAHA), it was formed in April last year and is supported by an NGO called Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief in Africa (EPARA).
In an interview last week the group’s chairman, Farai Sithole, said: “We started as a small group of men holding meetings to encourage more HIV positive men to disclose their status. Our members then believed that when neighbours saw a group of men living with HIV together singing songs, joking and laughing together, they would realize that men can live positively with HIV.”
Today, members of MCAHA are helping to encourage other men to become involved in the fight against the virus. Members give dramatic presentations and songs featuring messages about HIV and AIDS. The group is also reaching out to husbands and male partners of women visiting hospitals and clinics.
The group also performs at schools and gatherings for a fee. The group also provides home-based care to its members and it receives anti-retroviral drugs from EPARA.
“We discuss HIV with men and pregnant women at clinics and hospitals. We often visit couples at their homes to further discuss the issue,” Sithole said.
“We have seen that some males blame their wives for contacting the virus. If the man is threatening the woman at home or if there is even war at home, we try to intervene as men. It is our job to convince the man to find a more positive way of dealing with the situation,” he explained.
Kutsaranga is one of the most active members of the group and a popular drama actor. “All this time have been hiding and allowing myself to suffer from the stigma. But now I am happy, I feel like I am born again. The support from the group and EPARA has been very helpful to me,” he said.
He is now inspired to help people realize that HIV is not a death sentence. “Wherever we go through our drama, song and dance, we leave an impact,” he added.
The Programmes Officer for EPARA, Nicholas Maunze said the organization was be responsible for the establishment and administration of HIV and AIDS programmes in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
In an interview last week on the side-lines of a consultative meeting at the group’s centre in Sakubva Maunze said: “We are very impressed by the progress being made by the members of the group. They are so committed in participating in HIV and AIDS programmes . We are also overwhelmed by their zeal and efforts to fight stigma and at the same time fighting HIV and AIDS.
“We will help the members’ of the group to acquire training skills that will enable them to set up businesses to sustain their families and contribute to national development. I urge the members to take advantage of our programmes. We want everyone involved to benefit from these programmes," he said.
With more support, the group believes it can help to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS.Post published in: News