Friday, 30 November 2012

World AIDS Day 2012 - a local take

I know more people than I care to count who were lost to apathy, silence and refusal to change. Some of them were friends and acquaintances. Others were people who fleetingly passed by. The rate of infection has reduced but this is misleading. It means that less people are being infected, but it also means that people are still being infected.

What a 68 percent reduction over eleven years means is that for every 100 people who were infected in the past, 32 are still being infected. The presence of ARVs does not change the fact that people are living with HIV and that the infection is still spreading. I see no reason to be comfy with that.

It is a thing that will ripple through the future in the form of the lives of the OVCs and the things they are denied. It is a loss of humanity as well. People who could make a contribution are not leading the fullest possible lives.

One of the things that troubles me is the faith-based policy which denies condoms and realistic education. Sex is still one of the few economic resources available to women in extreme poverty. By denying condoms and a realistic approach to HIV, faith-based organisations deny one of the few reasonable methods to slow the spread of the condition even further. It's all fine and well to talk about sin, but what about a pro-active approach to the children of these parents, and the elder generation who end up as their carers?

There is also the small matter that many people treat NGOs in the field of HIV as cash cows, and that in the wake of scandals, short shrift has been given to the matter. The fact that NASOMA could be allowed to run out of funds to import and distribute condoms earlier in 2012 was shocking to say the least, and almost certainly lethal for some.

The cemeteries are still filling up. Perhaps people have become weary of the talk and the grim facts, but it needs to become an issue again. Back when AIDS first emerged, Namibia dismissed addressing the issue on cultural and religious grounds. If we allow it to sink into the background, in a mire of complacency, we could be faced with a day when we realise that the problem has returned.

No comments:

Post a Comment