Keetmanshoop-Although knowing your status is the best thing to do, many prefer to remain in the dark on whether they are HIV positive or negative, fearing a backlash and discrimination from society.
The Namibian Network of AIDS Service Organisations (Nanaso) says this needs to change as many people are still afraid to go for an HIV test, fearing that their lives will not be normal again if they test positive, a situation for which society can be blamed.
Although much has been done over the years to sensitise Namibians on HIV/AIDS, Nanaso’s advocacy and fundraising manager Zack Makari said a lot still has to be done to get to a society free of discrimination and stigmatisation of people living with HIV.
Makari, who was speaking after a donation of food to Mothers Voice organisation at Keetmanshoop last Thursday, said stigma and discrimination are still rife society, which needs to change if the country wants to strive towards a HIV-free nation.
He explained that the only way this can change is by accepting and embracing one another, irrespective of someone’s HIV status, adding that acceptance will create a conducive environment for people to live positively and not be scared to take the test.
“Being positive does not change a person from what they were before, so we need to create an environment conducive for HIV positive people, and once we do that nobody will be afraid to take a HIV test,” he said.
On the donated food to various organisations in the region, Makari indicated it is the organisation’s wish that every individual on medical treatment gets a healthy and balanced diet, and thus its efforts to ensure that people take their tablets on full stomachs and not neglect them due to hunger.
“As you are aware people on medication are sometimes without food and as a result they end up throwing away their medicine instead of taking them, as they cannot take them on an empty stomach,” he noted.
Mother’s Voice leader Trudie Witbooi said she appreciated the donation, adding that the organisation has been struggling to carry out its activities, such as the running of the soup kitchen that benefits poor people.
“We try our best to be self-sustainable, and we help anyone who has a problem and not necessarily the sick, but we do not always have enough in our storage room, so this will really help us a lot,” she said..