Know Your HIV Status, Calls President on Men

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By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK

Disturbed by men’s unenthusiastic attitude towards HIV/Aids, President Hifikepunye Pohamba has strongly urged men in the country to act now by going for HIV tests before it is too late.

The call was made yesterday during the first-ever male conference on HIV/Aids in Namibia.

Over 200 delegates including ministers and their deputies, high-ranking government officials, traditional and religious leaders and captains of different industries attended the conference.

Statistics show that only 17 percent of Namibian men have shown keen interest in knowing their status.

“Most men are not tested and do not know their status,” lamented the President.

He pleaded with all men in the country to cultivate the habit of knowing their status.

“We cannot leave our women alone to carry out this fight. It is a great concern that when it comes to HIV/Aids treatment and care, our health facilities record more women than men,” added the Head of State.

The status quo has been that women mostly have accepted and realised how detrimental to the economy the virus is. Because of that, they access services to prevent the transmission of the Aids virus from, for example, mother to child.

Unfortunately, men have taken a back seat and are still not ready to accompany their partners to receive the full complement and benefits of the services provided in the fight against the pandemic.

Worse still, men who seek health services only do so when the illness is advanced.

The President said while women take a proactive role in knowing their status and take relevant steps, men are not supportive of women.

“In many instances, our women cannot even disclose their positive HIV status to their spouses or partners for fear of rejection and the violence that often follows such disclosures,” added Pohamba.

He reiterated, “This call is once again a call upon men to come out and demonstrate our known bravery in this fight against the HIV/Aids epidemic.”

The one-day conference was held under the theme “Namibian Men and HIV/Aids, Our Time to Act”.

The first HIV/Aids case in Namibia was recorded in 1986.

Last year, the estimated number of individuals living with HIV in Namibia, according to the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Dr Norbert Forster, was 200??????’??

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