The first of December marked World Aids Day. Malawi has made some positive strides in combating the disease compared to a decade ago where issues surrounding the diseases were too taboo to confront. Now we see the growing free conversation around Aids and more people going to test and living positively.
We have also noticed so far is there is less stigma attached to the disease in recent years compared to the alienation that people living positively were subjected to in the past. We now know of individuals living positively that we interact with without too much sensitivity to their status. These are all great strides.
This year’s World Aids Day there was ‘Know Your Status’… It is very important to know one’s status and to not live in denial about Aids. Anyone can contact Aids. This makes it important for everyone to keep in mind the important messages around Aids:
It will forever be important to know your status. It is important to get tested at every opportunity and keep record of your health. From what I know, it is usually easier to contain a disease by means of medical and nutritional attention before it has done too much irreversible damage to the body. That is why it is advisable to get tested often enough to take note of any changes in good time.
It is also important to know your status to avoid passing the disease on to other people. Some people unknowingly pass on the disease to their spouse, lovers and unborn children because they remain ignorant of their status. At the end of the day, other people suffer because of another person’s ignorance or complacency.
It is important to remain protected and refrain from casual sex. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or handsome someone looks, when Aids strikes it ideally has no regard for good looks. The tendency to gauge a person’s status by physical appearance just after a few weeks of knowing them is detrimental.
I am sure so many extremely good looking or “safe” looking people have died of the disease. This makes it gravely important to be sure of the facts and not make assumptions before landing oneself in a situation that has no reverse gear attached to it.
Stick to one partner
It is unfortunate that nowadays people choose to twist values; having multiple partners will never be a fancy thing as it simply spells lack of personal values and self-respect. What we see instead is men and women challenging each other at who can have more partners, who gets more attention and who is being sought after more. It seems having more than one partner gives people a sense of perverted validation.
Consequently, the sex webs in our towns and cities continue to grow. If a woman has three partners, it is obvious that she is giving them just a part of herself and the missing parts are supplemented elsewhere. In the end, a chain starting with one woman and three men will lead to a web with sixteen people involved and the virus dancing somewhere in between. Can we really combat the disease this way?
Awareness is an important aspect if fighting the disease that should always be championed regardless of the apparent great progress in fighting the disease. I always consider parent-to-child awareness as the first step in attaining deep and widespread national awareness on the disease. Parents should talk to their children from a young stage about sexual matters and about sexually transmitted diseases.
After this we can have such awareness incorporated into school curriculums, work trainings, media programmes and society at large. As this happens, it is also important not to sugar coat the impact the disease has on one’s life and the people around them. Some messages on VCT tend to make it sound “easy” to get tested whether one is found positive of not. Getting tested is an important thing to do but the consequences should not be omitted in the quest to get people tested.
Awareness should involve a straightforward message and an honest plea for individuals to take control of their lives while explicitly aware of the consequences that come with a change of status.
I sincerely hope by the first of December next year, there will be even greater strides made in the fight against the HIV and Aids. In the meantime, get tested, know your status.
I rest my case.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues