Erongo Governor, Neville André said that more needs to be done to increase awareness about the required HIV/AIDS* response when World AIDS Day was commemorated at Walvis Bay last Friday.
The Governor urged all stakeholders to strengthen and empower organizations representing communities living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV. “This will enable them to take a leadership role in the HIV response to increase awareness about the critical contributions of community-led organizations in connecting individuals with person-centred healthcare services, building trust, and driving innovation in HIV prevention and treatment,” he said.
Around the world, 9.2 million people living with HIV today do not have access to life saving treatment. Every minute a life is lost to AIDS.
“To succeed, we must let communities on the front lines of the AIDS pandemic lead the way. With support from the Ministry of Health and Social Services and other partners, groups of people living with HIV called Community Adherence Groups come together and support each other in making sure every group member has their treatment on time as indicated.”
“They work out ways to get treatment for each other without compromising their daily life activities,” said André.
He further called on the public to get tested so that they can know what their status is.
“With communities taking lead is not good enough, you need to take a stand and get to know your HIV status. This is the starting point to an HIV free community,” he said.
Also speaking at the occasion, Walvis Bay resident who was born with HIV, Helalia Petrus, urged those living with the virus to keep taking their medication and to continue pursuing their dreams.
“Despite everything, I continued taking my anti-retroviral drugs. HIV is a sickness like any other sickness. I would like to encourage everyone who is living with HIV not to stop taking their medication.”
“It is not a death sentence and it is not the end of the world. You can still live a normal life like any other person. If you are a student, study hard and don’t give up on your dreams. You can accomplish any goal you want to achieve in life despite your HIV status,” said Petrus.
World AIDS Day is commemorated each year on 01 December as an opportunity for every community to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, to help those that are affected and to remember those who have passed away.
Source : Economist