Voluntary testing and ARV provision vital in anti-Aids campaign

Monday December 1 was world aids day. This is observed as a day dedicated to the awareness of HIV/Aids. Aids remains a major threat to individuals, families and communities in many parts of the world.

Monday December 1 was world aids day. This is observed as a day dedicated to the awareness of HIV/Aids. Aids remains a major threat to individuals, families and communities in many parts of the world.

What can not escape anybody is the fact that, 26 years after the disease was first diagnosed, there is still no cure. The implication is that the disease remains a major killer. Many young people have not known a life devoid of the constant daily fear of catching HIV.

With the advent of Aids, life has never been the same for many people. It has killed many and left young ones orphaned. Interventions to prevent and control HIV/ Aids have since taken a life of their own.

A lot of money has been dedicated to the fight against Aids and whereas a vaccine or cure for the condition remains elusive, major achievements have been made in mitigating the impact the condition has on its victims.

More than a decade ago, getting infected with HIV was equivalent to a death warrant. The stigma that was associated with the disease could easily lead to premature death. In some homes, young people who fell sick as a result of the condition would be ostracized.

But over the years, with vigorous awareness campaigns, many people have come to terms with the reality that anyone can get the HIV virus that causes Aids.

The availability of antiretroviral (ARVs) therapy has also done a lot to reduce the stigma and more so, the fear that was hitherto associated with the condition.

ARV treatment has helped to improve the survival rates of people with HIV/Aids. But apparently, some argue it has served to remove the fear factor. Some say that the emphasis of treatment creates apathy and people do not fear catching the virus any longer.

What is apparent is that in many developing countries, treatment is yet to reach all who need it. At the same time, poverty remains widespread in most of the countries that have high prevalence rates of HIV. This is where the tragedy is.

ARV treatment requires a specific diet. And many poor people can hardly afford such. They easily abandon treatment and that is it!

The campaign to control HIV/Aids has also had a number of contradictions. Whereas many advocate for Abstinence, Being faithful to ones sexual partner and Use of Condoms-the ABC strategy, there is a movement emanating from conservative Christianity that dismisses the use of condoms for religious reasons.

Whereas this strategy of conservative Christians is respectable, many tend to disagree with it. This is because many believe that sexual relations before marriage especially for young people is inevitable. However, conservative Christianity contends that sex is for married people only. The Catholic Church also opposes the use of condoms.

Whereas no one doubts the good intentions of these teachings, many believe they are counterproductive and only serve the opposite purpose.

Prevention remains the best option but the reality is that many people continue to get infected. So availing ARV’s treatment and testing services can have a great impact as far as containing and managing the condition is concerned. It is estimated that majority of the people infected with HIV are not aware of their zero status.

Lack of information about one’s zero status is considered to be a major factor in the spread of the virus.  Apparently, few people will take the initiative to know their zero status.

Interacting with many young people, one gets the impression that many do not even want to know their status. This can be attributed to fear.

It is apparent that many will never take the initiative to have a voluntary test, at least before there is no visible condition to suspect that they may be infected.

Some will tell you that before they “go down” as in seriously falling sick, they will never want to know their status. However, according to experts, early knowledge of the condition helps one to live positively.

Some medical experts have gone on to say that timely ARV treatment and care can help HIV positive people to live into old age even if they got infected early in life. This vindicates the absolute necessity of testing and treatment services in the struggle against HIV/Aids.

Contact: frank2kagabo@yahoo.com

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