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Responding to HIV, AIDS

DORIS KASOTE, Livingstone
HOW the country responds to HIV is of utmost importance because HIV and AIDS is everyone’s concern.
Livingstone, like any other district in Zambia has been hit by the pandemic, which makes everyone’s responsibility to join in championing for behavioural change.
Those that are HIV positive should take precautions on how best they can take care of themselves while those who are negative, should do the same and endeavour to stay negative.
The prevalence rate among the sexually active age group, those between 15 and 48 years, is going down.  This is as it should be.  The rate is said to have fallen from 14 percent to 12 percent.
Such indicators are now developing a positive attitude towards the pandemic and departing from risk behaviour.
However, Livingstone especially that it is a tourist capital is one of the districts with high HIV rates which stand at 25.3 per cent.  This is one of the reasons the Condomize! Campaign Team felt the need to make a difference in the tourist capital by sensitising people on condom use as well as hold road shows recently.
The road shows saw Condomize! Campaign Team ambassador Brian Bwembya popularly known as B-Flow hold shows with the primary reason of getting the message to the masses.
B Flow also called on artistes to sing songs that will have a positive change on people adding that music is a powerful tool.
“I want to be remembered as having made a contribution towards the response to HIV.  I have also had family members who I have lost to HIV.  If one is not infected, they are certainly affected,” he said.
He called on the young to preserve themselves and not indulge in sex because it was not worth it adding that the repercussions were sometimes grave, “as a young person, the primary thing should be to develop oneself and not rush to indulge in sex”.
This initiative elated Livingstone district commissioner Omar Munsanje who felt using music to preach to people sometimes has greater impact than speeches.
“I call upon the Condomize! Campaign Team to set up a permanent office in Livingstone because the district is one of the district the highest HIV prevalence,” he said.
The team chairperson Boyd Nyirenda is happy that Mr Munsanje is passionate about the campaign which was in line with this year’s World AIDS Day, “Zambia’s future: getting to zero new HIV infections.
The day which falls on December 1 was this year graced by First Lady Esther Lungu in Livingstone.
Mrs Lungu commended medical institutions in Livingstone for providing quality health services for people living with HIV despite operating under difficult circumstances.
She said the district is operating in difficult conditions considering that some clinics are just being improved as HIV and AIDS centres.
Just as much as residents appreciate the various efforts being made to respond to HIV, they felt campaigns like those by the Condomize! Campaign Team should not only be concentrated in urban areas.
Charity Pingo, a teacher at Sekute Primary School in Kazungula district said the campaign is being defeated if other areas are left out.
Another resident who identified herself as Maria raised concern on the erratic supply of condoms adding that such services should be constant.
The Condomize! Campaign Team, which is supported by United Nations Population Fund and other co-operating partners, said it took stock of the concerns but explained that the team has partners that reach areas where the project is not able to.
The team distributed 144, 000 male condoms and 5, 000 female condoms ahead of the World AIDS Day.