Zimbabwe: People Living With HIV Urged to Shun Misinformation

Senior Writer

PEOPLE living with HIV and those with other chronic illnesses have been encouraged to shun misinformation and instead go and take the Covid-19 vaccines.

The Herald spoke to a teacher Mrs Johana Farayi Kasirori who is HIV positive and managed to get her first Covid-19 jab recently.

"I was born on March 23, 1967 and l tested HIV positive in 1989 during the time when stigma and discrimination was rife. I faced all sorts of stigma and discrimination. I only survived through the socio and physiological support from my family and children," she said.

"So when the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Zimbabwe, I was very afraid since I'm already vulnerable. I thought I was finished, but thank God our loving President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa through his all-weather friends China and India availed vaccines."

She said at first she was hesitant to take the jabs due to massive negative comments and videos she saw on social media.

"But after thorough research and through the support from my doctors, I decided to take the vaccine in order to reduce my vulnerability to Covid-19, to protect my children, nieces and school children that I mix and mingle with as a school teacher," she said.

Mrs Kasirori said she does not listen to jokes on social media speaking against the vaccines.

She said she took the vaccine out of her own conviction in order to save her life and that of her peers.

"It's now almost two weeks after I took the Covid-19 jab, so far so good, my life routine has not changed. I'm doing my daily chores and going to work and exercising. I have not felt any side effects yet and I doubt if I will experience some in the near future," she added.

She encouraged others who are living with HIV and other non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes among others to take this initiative.

"Vaccination will save lives and reduce the hospital burden thereby relieving the Government's health expenditure," she said.

In the past, she has appeared on televised Anti- HIV stigma campaign phase two alongside Pastor Maxwell Kapachawo and Lecturer Davies Mazodze.

She also won the Auxillia Chimusoro Award (2008).

"l encourage other people living with HIV to make informed decisions as far as this jab is concerned. When anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) were introduced, many HIV positive people refused to take them because rumours were circulating claiming that it was the Whiteman's medicines meant to wipe out the blacks," she said.

She added: "Many people who followed the bad advice died and we buried them. Now I can see the same trend during this Covid-19 pandemic when some people are refusing to take the Covid-19 jab just because of social media. Some have even lost their lives yet the Government availed the vaccines as an emergency inorder to save lives. Our President Cde Mnanganga and his Vice President Chiwenga (who is also the minister of health and child care) also took their jabs, but the "doubting Thomas" will always be there."

Apart from being a teacher, Mrs Kasisori is also the secretary for the Pan African Positive Women's Coalition-Zimbabwe (PAPWC- ZIM) where Tendayi Westerhoff is the National Coordinator.

The association seeks to empower HIV positive women and girls with information, leadership skills, legal representation, development and businesses among others.

Westerhoff who is also living with HIV got her Sinopharm Vaccine recently and the two are now waiting for their second jab.

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