‘Know Your HIV Status’, Urges President

Following on from World AIDS day South Sudan’s President urges people to find out their HIV Status. The following article comes from allafrica.com:

Juba — The President of the Republic of South Sudan H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit has urged all the citizens to take the lead in fighting the epidemic in Africa’s newest nation by knowing their HIV status.

Speaking at the end of the day-long World AIDS celebrations at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba, President Kiir noted that HIV and AIDS is a big enemy to the new nation. He emphasized that the disease knows no borders and does not differentiate between the young or the old.

President Kiir said fighting the disease calls for the collective efforts of every South Sudanese as HIV and AIDS is not like other diseases that one can be immunized against. “Don’t say the fight against HIV/AIDS is the responsibility of the other people as the fight begins with you”, he emphasized adding that knowing one’s status is the best tool in dealing with disease. “I’m a soldier, and in my military training I was told to know my enemy before fighting it”, he said. The President explained that if people know their HIV status they can plan their lives better by either avoiding risky behavior that can expose them to contracting the deadly virus or by living positively with the virus.

President Kiir called on parents to openly talk to their children about the disease so as to make them aware of the dangers that may expose them to contracting the disease adding that the government is committed to seeing that the world’s theme of this year’s celebration is attained and the government would not like to see new infections.

The president also warned married couples against unfaithfulness explaining that it is such behavior that at times sneaks the virus into families consequently leading to the loss of lives and leaving orphans. “We do have so many orphans and disabled children who are as a result of the long civil war and we would not want to have more orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS”, he said. He called for positive living and openness with one’s HIV status so that people who know they are HIV positive do not infect others knowingly. “If you know you are HIV positive and go on infecting more people, then you would be killing your nation”, he explained.

President Kiir decried the negative attitude of some people towards some of the protective measures against HIV/AIDS such as the use of condoms. He said such behavior puts them in higher risk of contracting the virus and called on the sexually active people to change their sexual behavior if they are to avoid the AIDS scourge.

The president observed that with the declaration of independence of South Sudan, many people from different parts of the world with little knowledge about their health backgrounds are in Juba and he noted that some may be carriers of the HIV/AIDS virus and are loaded with money. He said that with the vulnerability of South Sudanese bearing in mind that most people are poor, they could fall prey to such people. He advised all South Sudanese to value life more than money.

He also called on South Sudanese to stop discriminating against people living with HIV/AIDS but instead support them.

The chairperson of the South Sudan AIDS Commission Hon. Dr. Esterina Novello Nyilok said HIV/AIDS is a great challenge with social, cultural and economic consequences in the society and explained that tackling the epidemic takes the collective understanding of the disease which in return can be able to redirect people’s behavior.

She explained that the only weapon to overcome the disease is by prevention and added that this can only be possible if every person takes the initiative of taking HIV/AIDS test to know their status. She said the tests are voluntarily, confidential and free. She said it is at times a difficult decision to take but has to be taken. “This is a very difficult decision to take but it must be taken by people of all walks of life, all positions in society”, she said.

She called on the government to avail funds to fight the scourge warning that currently the HIV prevalence among pregnant women in the country is standing at 3.1 and warned it may go further if a good strategy is not put in place. She commended the support of the government in the fight against the disease.

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201112040032.html written by Matata Safi

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