In today’s world EVERY ONE needs to have knowledge about the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The more knowledge we have about this disease, the more we will be able to save the future generation. “We don’t have to give up” noted the Kenyan ambassador at the Commission on Social Development at United Nations Headquarters. We already have seen our relatives, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers die due to this disease. The World Youth Alliance would like to thank the Permanent Mission of Kenya for screening the film Inside Story, together with the Discovery Channel and UNAIDS. This film teaches that knowledge is power.
In developing countries, most people suffer from a lack of knowledge about this disease, which results in risky behavior and a fear of getting tested. Many don’t know the advantages of testing, such as the sooner you get tested, the sooner you can access treatments and information to help you manage the condition and delay the onset of AIDS. The earlier on in the progress of the infection that you are able to get tested and get effective treatment, the easier it is to keep your immune system healthy. Your doctor can monitor your immune system and help you avoid opportunistic diseases, or manage these when they occur. WYA recognizes that while testing is critical to determine your status, the avoidance of multiple sexual partners and abstinence is of paramount importance. Saying no to activities that put you at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS is the first step to an AIDS free generation.
In developing countries, many are often not in a position where they can afford anti-retroviral medications and other treatments. In some developing countries, such as Tanzania, ARV’s are provided for free, and there are also additional ways of ensuring that you stay as healthy as possible, such as learning about how to follow a lifestyle with good nutrition and suitable exercise, and avoiding damaging substances such as cigarettes and alcohol. If more people know their HIV status and use the knowledge to act responsibly, the pandemic can be better controlled. If you are pregnant and test HIV positive, appropriate treatment can reduce the risk of your baby becoming infected. Without treatment, HIV-positive women have about a one-in-four chance of infecting their baby during pregnancy or birth. Treatment can reduce this figure significantly. Finding out your HIV status as early as possible, gives you time to make plans for yourself and your dependents to be looked after when you get sick. You can help educate others about HIV/AIDS, and improve their attitudes and behavior related to the disease, by talking about your HIV status and your decision to get tested.
I had the benefit of hearing a group of people living with HIV, speak about their disease. I learned that we don’t have to give up — an HIV/AIDS free generation begins with YOU AND ME.
By Lina George Mwabuka, Intern at WYA HQ, New York.