WINDHOEK- “If I am born with HIV, please tell me earlier.”
The First Lady Monica Geingos said on behalf of children born with the virus, who are requesting their parents and guardians to be honest about their HIV status.
Geingos remarked these are some of the things young people share at her #BeFree campaign.
The first lady, who is also UNAIDS special advocate for young women and adolescent girls, shared this during the commemoration of World AIDS day 2019 on Monday.
She said what is dangerous is having young people who are not told the truth that they are born with HIV and start their sexual debuts, thereby exposing other young people to the risk of contracting the virus. “Young people are saying to the parents, if I am born with HIV, please tell me earlier. Too many people are finding out that they are HIV positive since birth in a manner that is not desirable. There are too many young people are being told by their grandmothers or grandfathers who raised them that the pills you are drinking are vitamin pills, and it makes it difficult to accept the diagnosis once it happens,” remarked Geingos.
Geingos stated there are also a lot of young people who want to be HIV activists but they are stopped because their parents have not disclosed their HIV status. “That is why it is important to have a conversation,” stated Geingos, who added parents need to reach out to social workers to know how and when it is appropriated to have the conversation with children regarding their HIV status.
“The best for parents is to be encouraged to reach out to social workers and explain what the problem is because children are starting to find out they are born with HIV when they go for treatment or when they are sick,” counselled Geingos.
The First Lady said she is also concerned there remains self-declared pastors who claim to provide cure for HIV through prayers, which is very common in crusades. She said a majority of religious community are exceptionally responsible but there remains a small number.
She wants the regulation of public and environmental health Act to be finalised because it will criminalise the behaviour of pastors who seek to indicate they have a cure for HIV. She said pastors should not be allowed to undermine the efforts that are made in this country regarding HIV.
“When you adhere to (HIV) treatment, you become undetectable. what happens now, an irresponsible pastor realises this and hijacks an incredibly important virus suppression point and say, we have cured you because we prayed for you, therefore, throw away your ARVs,” said Geingos who called on the religious community to guard those who are among themselves engaging in this. In addition, Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Kalumbi Shangula said Namibia has reached and surpassed the UNAIDS 90:90:90 fast tracked targets by ensuring 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status and are on treatment, while their viral load is suppressed. “The successes recorded should be viewed against the challenges we continue to face, with respect to reaching men, particularly young men, who are less likely to know their HIV status and to take up treatment,” said the minister. He added that another area of concern is adolescent girls and young women, amongst whom high rates of HIV infection are still being observed.
Furthermore, Shangula said with a population of N$ 2.5 million, Namibia is experiencing a matured generalised HIV/AIDS epidemic. There are over 200 000 people living with HIV between the ages of 15 and older. More than 50 percent of them are women. The northern parts of the country are the most affected, with Zambezi at 22.3 percent, Ohangwena at 17.9 percent, Omusati at 16.9 percent, Oshana at 15.8 percent, Kavango East at 14.5 percent and Kavango West at 12. 1 percent.
2019-12-04 07:35:32 | 6 months ago