Not every HIV victim committed an immoral act.
The increase in behavior of excluding people who are HIV positive in the community has contributed to the number of new HIV infections.
Saada Aballah, a teacher at Mwembe Ladu School in Unguja claims that HIV discrimination in society increase vulnerability and leads people to refrain from getting tested and knowing their status.
She said that society still maintains a very negative attitude towards people living with HIV.
I don’t believe that this attitude is due to a lack of education about HIV. Society should be aware of the consequences of excluding people living with HIV, especially to children; she added.
Additionally, a young boy called Abeid Saad Said, said that society has little knowledge about HIV and AIDS and suggested that there is a need to heighten peoples understanding about the disease in Zanzibar
Furthermore, he asked the community to do away with misconception and prejudgment about people who are HIV positive on the belief that every victim is a sexual offender.
HIV education to our neighbors saved us.
It was only a few years ago since my father passed away leaving me behind with my mother and sister.
We are all alone and we miss the support my father used to bring to the family. My mother has no job. She does poultry keeping and sometimes this helps us meet our basic needs.
We used to hear people in our neighborhood saying that our father died from HIV. When we asked our mother she didn’t want to tell us anything.
Then our neighbors began to isolate us and point fingers at us. The children started saying bad things about us and excluding us altogether. Their behavior really hurt us.
We could not understand why they were shunning us like that.
We used to always share food with our neighbors, but then they just stopped.
Our neighbors would not bring us any food and they would not accept any food from us either.
When we asked them about their sudden change in behavior, they said they were afraid we afraid we would infect them with HIV.
Eventually, our mother decided to tell us that she was in fact HIV positive.
We were very saddened by her revelation, but we felt that there was no reason to isolate her. We love her so much and she loves us.
Soon after, our neighbors received some education on HIV and the consequences of discrimination. They were taught that they cannot get HIV simply by sitting or eating with someone who is HIV positive.
Now we live well with our neighbors like in the past.
They don’t say mean things about us nor do they isolate us anymore. We play happily with their children.
Although we still live in poverty, we appreciate the support we get from our neighbors and the entire community. We are very grateful for this fellowship.
Children demand HIV discrimination stopped In Zbar.
Rahman Ramadhan. Mto Pepo School & Mainda Juma,Rihana School
Mr. Abdallah Juma, a resident of urban Unguja has urges society to stop shunning and excluding people living with HIV. He said that this behavior makes life miserable and lonely for those who have openly declared their health status. While having a conversion with children reports for children’s voice who are learning about HIV discrimination in society, he said that he was once before a victim of such cruel behavior.
He says it jeopardized the success of his business since many people used to point accusing finger at him.
Mr. Juma added that it is vital to impart education about HIV to the members of society who are not yet affected by the disease, because unfortunately they are the ones who isolate and reject those that are HIV positive, including the orphans.
Many children infected and affected by HIV who have joined ZAPHA+
(Zanzibar Association for People Living with HIV/AIDS) commented that the problem of excluding people living with HIV makes them very sad and discourages them, because it deprives them of their basic child rights.
In addition, the children from ZAPHA+ believe that there is a strong need to educate the public about HIV, because the majority of the people have no idea about the consequences of their unkind actions. They are also the same people who popularize HIV discrimination, because they don’t know the pain it causes.
Many of the orphans we see having in poverty and in bad health, their parents died from HIV, commented Juma Hamad, a 16year old boy. Juma said that this is often the assumption made among community members, that because their parents died from HIV, then they too must have the disease and therefore could infect other people.
Isolating and rejecting children living with HIV cripples their development, especially since most of them are brought up by poor families, Juma emphasized.
The Government needs to join hands with organizations that offer HIV education to society in order to help get rid of of HIV discrimination, he concluded.
Let’s not be afraid to get tested for HIV.
I am a form one student at Uweleni Secondary School in Mkoani in Pemba. My father is living with HIV. My mother and I have never shunned my father because he is HIV positive. We live a good and normal life with him, just like other families.
My father has been a businessman for 15 year, buying different foods from Tanga and transporting them to Pemba for selling.
There was a time my father developed the habit of spending some night out of our home, for disappeared for three consecutive days.
Shortly after, my mother got the courage to ask my father why he was spending some rights out of his own home. He replied that he was sick, suffering from malaria, back and chest pains. My mother suggested d that he should go to hospital for a thorough medical examination.
My father agreed and they went to the hospital together. The result from the examination confirmed that my father was HIV positive.
After an HIV counselor in our community called Babu Lao, who is also living with HIV, came to our home and counseled, my father’s condition began to take ARVs, which he got from hospital in Chake Chake in Pemba. Today his health has improved a lot and we thank God for it.
Unfortunately, one of our relatives used to insolate my father because he was HIV positive and he even stopped visiting us. After being educated about HIV transmission and prevention, he changed his behavior.
Now our family and relatives all live together happily with my father. We take care good care of my father, because we love him and value him.