Leaders urged to Take HIV/AIDS Tests

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Politicians and government leaders in Namibia and the rest of the world should be tested for HIV/AIDS. This is one of a number of recommendations made by participants at an international workshop that ended this week at the Polytechnic of Namibia. News broadcaster CNN is to flight the findings and the recommendations on the “Future Leader’s Summit on HIV/AIDS” in a pre-recorded programme on February 04. An interview with Prime Minister Nahas Angula on the AIDS pandemic will form part of the broadcast to the whole world. “It is imperative that politicians voluntarily go for HIV/AIDS tests and encourage others to do likewise as well as optionally disclose their status,” reads a summarised list of recommendations from the 30 Namibian and American participants at the summit. The summit also strongly urged the promotion of condoms as a more realistic approach than abstinence among the youth. “The youth must strive to reduce the HIV/AIDS stigma, encourage others to view HIV-positive people as productive members of society and expand those accessing and adhering to treatment,” the list stated. The event was a joint venture between the Polytechnic of Namibia and Elon University in the United States. The far-reaching recommendations have primarily been aimed at government and non-governmental organisations, business leaders, civil society and the youth. The students requested the Southern African Customs Union to prioritize health and access to essential drugs over other economic incentives. Regarding the educational system, the summit proposed: “that HIV/AIDS programs be incorporated in school curriculums, rather than after school programs in order to encourage greater participation. Also to create a mandatory course on HIV/AIDS and related issues for all UNAM, Polytechnic and Elon University students.” On the same educational topic, the participants asked for the establishment of gender-based clubs that empower girls and boys’ clubs to teach respectful relations towards females. An appeal was also made to business leaders to focus more on positive, non-possessive portrayals of women in radio, television and print media commercials and advertisements. Companies should change the “sex sells” business routine. Business people have also been encouraged to improve medical plans for employees to receive ARVs and counselling as well as develop policies that enforce gender equality and the protection of sexual harassment in the workplace.