Nyanga Community Health Clinic has called on the community to be on the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence and to make their views heard on the issues affecting them.
Speaking on the launch of the World Aids day and the16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Child campaign last Monday morning, by National Association of People Living with HIV and AIDS South Africa, (NAPWA), sister Nontando Sishuba said she was happy that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) came to launch. She said what they did was in line with the clinic’s slogan “let community lead”.
People from all walks of life, leaders in the field, government officials, civil society, traditional leaders, social activists and people living with HIV, all came together at the event to act, speak and learn from one another. Short speeches were made and people were at gazibos to test and screen for different diseases. Among the organisations were Napwa, Desmond Tutu, Sonke Gender, #keready, Anova and Nyanga Men Empowerment, just a few.
NAPWA provincial manager Thanduxolo Mntungwana, who has having been living with HIV/Aids since 1999, urged people to live a healthy lifestyle and not be scared to disclose their health status. He emphasised the importance of taking medicines and antiretrovirals to those infected.
“I have children and they are healthy without HIV/Aids. Thank you to the ARVs and the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission. We need to get tested. Undetected equals transmitted. If you do test, the virus can hide and come up later,” he said.
He admitted that great strides have been made in the fight against the disease, but along the way many people were lost. He said he was grateful to community activists and especially aids activists who fought for ARVs.
Another speaker, Sikhangele Mabhulu from Sonke Gender Justice, said more needs to be done to address gender-based violence in the country, in homes and in families. He said the struggle against HIV/Aids and GBV is still on-going.
“People have easily forgotten that HIV/Aids still exists. People are no longer using condoms and that is dangerous. Remember, we are still in the struggle against HIV/Aids and gender-based violence. So we encourage people to be vigilant and men to stop GBV and also use condoms when having sex,” said Mr Mabhulu.
Addressing a gathering, Reverend Mawande Lugongolo stressed the need for a collective effort to combat both HIV/Aids and violence. He said the day was an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to remember those we have lost loved-ones from an Aids-related illness.
“The day is a great day for us to look back at the impact we have had on our communities but again, we need to work as one to defeat the things that affect us. No one should work in isolation because most of us are pursuing one goal,” he said.
The Nyanga health committee led by Ntombi Hlapezulu called for a men’s clinic. She said they have noticed that men are not coming forward and speak about their health issues.
“But men need to know that their health is their priority. We encourage them to seek help while we are still fighting for them to have their own clinic,” she said
The day ended with candles being lit to remember those who had died of Aids.