Govt urged to revive HIV+ support groups

PEOPLE living with HIV and Aids have urged the new government to join them in raising awareness against stigmatisation and discrimination of people living with such health conditions.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition Zimbabwe chairperson Tendayi Westerhof told NewsDay yesterday that they would lobby President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to support and revive support groups of people living with HIV as they play a pivotal role in de-stigmatising HIV from the individual, family and community.

“Zimbabwe has reached one million people on HIV treatment and now in the process of eliminating mother-to-child-transmission. We need support from the government to revive support groups as they play a pivotal role in educating individual, family and community in fighting against the stigma,” she said.

Westerhof said the perpetuation of HIV stigma prevents many from seeking diagnosis and treatment.

She said there was need for a funded awareness and prevention campaign so as to increase the uptake of HIV testing service kits which was low.

According to reports, HIV and Aids discrimination exists around the world and includes ostracism, rejection and avoidance leading to low turn-out for HIV counselling and testing, identity crisis, isolation, loneliness, low self-esteem and lack of interest in containing the disease.

In most parts of Africa, HIV and Aids was associated with homosexuality, bisexuality, promiscuity and intravenous drug use.

Westerhof added that people living with HIV must be included in government programmes in fighting against the stigma since they were experiencing it.

Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition Zimbabwe is a coalition of women positively living with HIV and Aids.

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