6 December 2018

Namibia: Stigma a Setback to Efforts to Contain HIV

Oshivelo — The councillor of Nehale Lya Mpingana, Leevi Reinholdt, is of the view that if stigma and discrimination is not addressed urgently among communities, it will erode the efforts made so far to fight and ensure many people get tested for HIV/AIDs.

Men, he observed, were mostly the ones suffering the most from stigma, as they are not forthcoming to conduct HIV testing, compared to their female counterparts.

"I would therefore like to encourage men to be proactive and take a leading role in the fight against HIV/AIDs," stressed Reinholdt.

Equally, he noted, women were also at an increased risk of contracting HIV due to poverty, social and harmful cultural practices, as well as the lack of education.

"I therefore implore girls and young women to utilise the recently launched 'DREAMS' project-whose goal is to help girls develop into determined, resilient, empowered, Aids free, mentored and safe women. This project aims at preventing HIV incidences among adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 24 years," added Reinholdt.

The councillor of Nehale constituency made these remarks at the belated World Aids Day held at Oshivelo, where he announced that the Tsumeb district has an HIV prevalence of 14.5 percent-with a total of 3547 patients who are on treatment.

"Testing Positive for HIV enables one to have access to HIV prevention services, such as the voluntary male circumcision, Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (Prep), and health education on how to protect and remain negative," he stated on the benefits of getting tested.

Furthermore, he appealed to the community to work together to eliminate the risk factors that contribute to both teenage pregnancy and HIV infection. He cited peer pressure, poverty, substance abuse, and reluctance of parents to discuss sexual topics with the children as major contributors to HIV.

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