What stands in the way to check HIV/AIDS?

Our efforts towards combating the HIV pandemic fall prey to our own ignorance of the disease. The existence of traditional beliefs further compounds the tragedy. Our people continue to promote silence of the things we do not understand or those that we consider taboo. We are ignorant that silence promotes the thriving zone of this disease.

Our efforts towards combating the HIV pandemic fall prey to our own ignorance of the disease. The existence of traditional beliefs further compounds the tragedy.

Our people continue to promote silence of the things we do not understand or those that we consider taboo. We are ignorant that silence promotes the thriving zone of this disease.

The stigma associated with the disease is a formidable challenge to achieve universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support.

A recent visit to the district of Nyagatare in eastern province of Rwanda, by The New Times team, revealed how social beliefs hamper efforts to check the pandemic.

There is no doubt that this disease is there and it affects us all. We have lost family members, friends and many more others are huddled up in hospitals dying. We live in fear of the disease in our homes, yet we do nothing to protect ourselves.

People still believe the myth and folktales dreams and visions associated with Condoms. I was astonished to hear from the HIV district coordinator (Nyagatare schools) that some people are still afraid of using the condoms.

“Young people are evidently already sexually active by the time they are in primary school. Some get pregnant while others contract HIV AIDS. Surprisingly parents continue to keep silent about the subject (HIV/AIDS) to their children,” explains Heloise Allan, the anti HIV/AIDS coordinator in Nyagatare district.

She further insists that it’s about time people accepted that the disease is there and it affects us and hence take up all the measures available to check it. It is therefore important that people get to know the importance of using preventives.

Why should people for instance recoil from using condoms if they cannot abstain or remain faithful to their partners?

Condoms are displayed in suppermarkets handed out free and we continue to shy away from them because of the huge ignorance we have towards their use. Why do our people continue to reject a change yet they witness the danger daily?

Condoms use prevents the contraction of this disease, at least by 90%. This is of course according to medical research that is every one’s common knowledge due to the huge public sensitization in the country.

The use of condoms might be uncomfortable, unacceptable but it is what is available and safe. It’s a fact that our children continue to engage in unsafe sex whether we accept it or not, and they will continue to do so with or without parental guidance.

Our teenagers need us to be honest about the realities of unsafe sex; they need us to rise above our own shyness of the subject of sex. We cannot fight what we can hardly talk about. We cannot fight that what we still seem not to believe exists.

It’s about time that we chose to be responsible parents and led by example. Educate your children find out what they are going through talk to them about all methods of protection.

It is also worth noting that Stigma and discrimination too, promote the culture of silence – people fear to talk about HIV ands AIDS, let alone disclose there status.

Stigma, discrimination, Poverty and denial, as well as lack of confidentiality, contributes to a climate of fear.

“Some times people tend to point fingers at those with HIV/AIDS signs. That is why some people will never want to mention they are affected,” says Mbabazi Jane, of  Nyagatare.

Mbabazi’s experience, explains how Fear has contributed to the spread of this pandemic. This fear pushes us to hide from available health solutions to those already living with the disease.

People continue to be afraid of exposing their status to their neighbours and hence they continue with the same behaviour in the name of avoiding suspicion.

Unbelievable but true, we have made the subject a silent affair exposing ourselves to even greater danger .HIV Aids is a reality that we have to come to terms with.

It’s a fight that we have to defeat but we cannot do so, if we conform to our own ignorance. We must rise above our own lack of knowledge to equip ourselves with information regarding the disease .

We should embrace the solutions available for prevention and treatment. The key to fighting this disease is within us, because unless we unite in this fight, those who try to, can only fail and if they fail then it’s a common failure. This is a risk we cannot afford to take.

Contact: igathoni@gmail@yahoo.com

 

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