Being sick is no taboo, says Aids advocate

EASTERN PROVINCE BUGESERA—HIV/Aids patients have been asking district-wide to freely share their experiences in a more open fashion, to relieve emotional pressures placed upon the already ill.

EASTERN PROVINCE

BUGESERA—HIV/Aids patients have been asking district-wide to freely share their experiences in a more open fashion, to relieve emotional pressures placed upon the already ill.

“You need to join associations from where you can get emotional support from each other,” says Rose Tuyishime, an officer from the Rwandans and American Partnership of Aids, RAPSIDA, says.

“By sharing experiences you draw lessons from each other and learn to live positively.”

Officiating over a candle light ceremony of HIV victims in the Nyamata communishty, Tuyishime helped people share stories and testimonies.

Holding burning candles, tear-ridden families of patients recalled how they nursed their loved ones up to the last moment without the patients revealing their status to their caretakers, something they said came from fear of breaking taboos.

“My loved one did not tell me up to the last moment that he had contracted the virus. I wish he had told me I would have given him much attention and probably he would still be living,” one said.

Tuyishime says RAPSIDA’s intervention to organise such events aim at mitigating factors that cause patients to contemplate suicide.

“Burning candles,” she said, “is an indication to the victims that even after contracting the virus life continues thereby restoring hope.”

The non-governmental organization working with the anti-Aids club that works in schools also aims at fighting stigma directed towards the virus through theatrical competitions, songs and education. In Bugesera, It works with youth clubs at Nyamata high school and Apebu college.

She added “You should not undermine yourselves and get overcome by depression but feel as equal partners like other citizens,” she said.

At the function Gloria Musabyimariya, president of the Twisungane association noted that the stigma had, in fact, reduced over the years.

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