By Anna Ingwafa WINDHOEK National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor), which has recognized the potential risk posed by HIV/AIDS, on Friday joined the country in commemorating World AIDS Day, an event celebrated worldwide to highlight the disease. Adopting the “Charity Begins at Home” and “One Cannot Win the Battle by Not Starting at Home” premise, Namcor adopted a positive and proactive approach that will at all times protect the confidentiality of personal information. Speaking at the event, the Acting Managing Director of Namcor, Sam Beukes, said Namcor’s policy on HIV/AIDS is to provide clarity on the company’s position on epidemics in the workplace, as well as the rights of workers. It further aims at minimizing the risk of spreading the virus and reducing fears and stigmatization. “Namibia is one of the countries gravely affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and Namcor, as a responsible corporate citizen, is committed to supporting all efforts at fighting the pandemic nationally and globally,” he said. A young and courageous guest speaker, 24-year-old Nelao Martin, shared her real-life experience of living with the virus for the past eight years together with her eight-year-old son. She urged people to come out and speak openly about the disease and not to stigmatize those who are infected, and to show support for the efforts being made to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. “I feel bad because the man who infected me is out there infecting as many people as he can, and there is nothing one can do about it,” she stated. She added that HIV/AIDS in Namibia is associated only with women, and is given a feminine face because it is mostly women who come out with their true status. She urged that this should cease and that men should take up the challenge and also speak out. Martin encourages people to go to the State Hospitals to obtain relevant information on antiretroviral drugs. She expressed her dismay at learning that some HIV-positive people go to private doctors and hospitals where they are not always informed that these drugs have to be taken for the rest of their lives. She added that the State Hospitals are in a better position to offer more information. Namcor makes sure, through its peer educators, to provide awareness and education to staff, and also ensures that management’s commitment on HIV/AIDS at the workplace is addressed. Namcor is a proud member of Namibia Business Coalition on AIDS (NABCOA), a coalition which supplies the business sector with information on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Apart from its activities such as the distribution of condoms, Namcor also initiated the distribution of relevant programmes.
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