‘How alcohol abuse led me to getting HIV/AIDS’

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MARIENTAL – When sober, Paul Witbooi would not be able to talk to women. But a sip of alcohol would give him courage to propose to women. Witbooi’s predicament was so known among his community that people started calling him an “old virgin”. He found solace in alcohol, which he however abused to get involved with women.

In 2009 Witbooi was diagnosed HIV positive and now Witbooi says: “Every pleasure comes with problems.”

Witbooi told the crowd gathered for the AIDS Day commemoration at Takarania informal settlement, Mariental, that when under the influence of alcohol he would “get involved in sexual activities at any nearest place available”.

He went to hospital in 2009 after he developed body sores that would not heal. A blood test confirmed his positive status, and Witbooi says he accepted his situation as he couldn’t change anything.

By sharing his story Witbooi hopes to raise awareness on the abuse of alcohol and unsafe sexual activities, which in his case were the cause of HIV. He advised people to stay away from alcohol, use condoms and be faithful all the time.

Councilor of the Mariental Urban Constituency Barakias Namwandi urged community members of the Takarania informal settlement to take the initiative and be the leaders in fighting the spread of HIV in the community.

Namwandi explained that HIV/AIDS affects not only one but everyone and thus people must work together in the fight against HIV/AIDS. “There is no family in this country, in this town that is not affected by this virus,” he emphasised.

Warrant-Officer Karel Brandt of the police in Mariental also outlined how alcohol abuse in the area is the main cause of all problems including HIV/AIDS. He stressed that people having multiple partners is still a big concern.

He urged men to marry women and not just make babies and leave.

”Don’t change sexual partners like you are changing your underwear,” he said.

He also urged women to stop drinking to the extent that they cannot walk by themselves and to stop walking alone especially during the late hours as this can lead to them being raped.

By Matheus Hamutenya

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