The Minister of Health and Social Services, Bernard Haufiku, underwent voluntary HIV testing during the official opening of the first ever National Aids Conference that started on Monday at Swakopmund. Haufiku said that getting tested for HIV was certainly not a publicity stunt but an attempt to encourage Namibian men to undergo voluntary testing.
“I also wanted to put myself in the shoes of other Namibians to see what it takes to actually go for testing. It is indeed not easy, not even for me who is a doctor. I experienced anxiety but it was necessary for me to get tested publically,” he told the gathering.
He then reminded Namibian men that are not yet tested to make a personal commitment to their partners and themselves to get tested before the festive season.
“Without testing and knowing your status you won’t be able to access the treatment,” he said.
Haufiku said often men do not go for tests but opt to rely on their partner’s HIV status due to the fact that they are tested when going for antenatal care.
“They draw their conclusions based on their wife or and partner’s HIV/status and this should not be the case. Men should get tested themselves, so that they can access healthcare if needed,” he said.
According to the minister about 18 000 people undergo voluntary testing every year in Namibia, which translates to 1 400 per month or two persons per hour.
Namibia’s first ever National Aids Conference was attended by 600 delegates from across the country and the conference was held under the theme “Together we are ending Aids in Namibia.”
The three-day conference ended today – Thursday – and in attendance were doctors, scientists and health professionals from both the public and private sector.
The delegation discussed and shared expertise as they analysed Namibia’s efforts in the fight against HIV/Aids, prevention efforts, testing services, and evaluation of the prevention of mother to child transmission.
Haufiku said that there are many HIV/AIDS testing facilities around the country that allow people with HIV, even those from remote areas, to have access to treatment and the necessary healthcare.
“We cannot still make an excuse. I encourage all, especially men to get tested and know their status,” the minister appealed.