Hands up to prevent Aids

Abathandi Bomculo from Atlantis.

Hands up for #HIVPrevention was the theme of this year’s World Aids Day awareness programmes, held throughout the city last week.

Patients at the Goodwood Community Health Centre (CHC) and the Dirkie Uys Clinic attended a World Aids Day awareness programme on Thursday December 1.

Salmaa Isaacs, an HIV/Aids counsellor at the clinic, encouraged patients to get tested and to know their status.

“It’s important to change your mind-set about the virus. If someone shares their status with you, embrace and continue to reach out and support them,” she said.

Ms Isaacs has been a counsellor for 17 years and is affiliated with Touching Nations, an NGO based in Matroosfontein. She became involved in HIV/Aids advocacy after completing her psychology and anthropology degree at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

“People didn’t know much about the virus in 1999,” she said. But there was still a lot of stigma attached to it today, especially among older people.

But there was still a lot of stigma attached to it today, especially among older people.

People abusing drugs and alcohol were at greater risk of contracting HIV because of their lowered inhibitions. “At the clinic, we find a higher number of patients testing positive for the STIs following the festive season due to their lackadaisical mind-set during the silly season,” she said.

Goodwood resident Thando Siwisa was at the event, where candles were lit for those who have died of Aids.

He said people must realise that HIV does not discriminate.

“It does not matter what colour you are; your gender or how much money you make. It also affects people both psychologically and economically.”

Government should also spread awareness daily; not only on World Aids Day, he said.

Naomi Mingo, a Dirkie Uys Clinic health promoter, urged women to take back their power and wear the female condom.

“Women are scared to use it, because they feel it will seep into their vagina. It won’t, because it has ring keeping it in place.”

She urged couples to get tested together.

“People are scared to disclose their status to their partners, but if they go together it makes it easier for them to both accept the outcome,” she said.

After the awareness programme at the clinic Ms Mingo held another one at Goodwood library, where principal librarian Rosa Folscher said: “The more awareness spread about the virus, the better. People need to be educated as there are so many ways that one can innocently contract the virus.”