As the HIV/Aids pandemic continues to take its toll in more than 160 countries across the globe, people are beginning to accept it and live positively with it. In Namibia, by December 2019, it was reported that more than 200 000 people from the age of 15 and above were living with HIV, the majority being women.
The stigma long attached to Aids is gradually fading and people who have made public pronouncements of their HIV status to warn others about this deadly condition are usually referred to as “saviours” of those still playing risky sexual behaviour.
Surprisingly, in many of the worst-hit sub-saharan countries, representing about 60% of the total rate of HIV infection and Aids worldwide, only a small number of HIV positive persons have gone public.
Many avoid going public out of fear that their public life will be adversely affected. Some fear that girls could turn down their proposals, others fear they will be ostracised and treated with contempt.
Ridden with such fears, many people disappear from the limelight on being told of their HIV positive status, thereby exposing themselves to more risks and sometimes even infecting more safe lives deliberately out of vengeance against the opposite sex.
With only a single person coming out openly to say he or she is HIV positive, the impact on the public is severely limited and risky sexual behaviour continues unabated. There is an urgent need for more HIV positive persons to go public – they serve as role models.
In 1993, the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) launched an outreach programme that enables some of the young people carrying the virus to visit different countries in the African Region, as ambassadors of Positive Living, to share ideas and experiences with young people involved in the Aids programme.
The ambassadors have a heavy burden: to enlighten those not infected on the dangers of HIV/Aids and to encourage those infected to live positively with the condition. Since the inception, the Ambassadors of Positive Living Group has exchanged visits to African countries to give presentations of their nation’s experience in combating the HIV/Aids among young people to the other regions of the Commonwealth: Asia, The Caribbean and South Pacific.
“We would be very glad and better informed if we personally meet a person who is infected with the virus, but still looking healthy,” said a female student from Zimbabwe.
“The situation is the same where nobody has so far claimed he or she was HIV positive although a sizeable proportion is,” said a student from Pietersburg, South- Africa. The students from West Africa said the same and observed that should they have an opportunity to listen to an infected person talking on the dangers of HIV infection and Aids, the reality of the disease will be brought much closer to them and they will become better informed and would consequently adopt safer lifestyles.
From the aforesaid, the need for more ambassadors cannot be overemphasised. These are equipped with the requisite methods and skills to enable them to serve as effective educators of other youth and their communities through the establishment of National Networks (strengthening) for young people with HIV/Aids and identify relevant policy and action plans to support operations of such networks
2020-06-29 10:06:50 | 1 months ago