Kamuli: Activists fighting for the rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda have decried the stigma and discrimination from community against the victims (people with HIV).
The sexually transmitted disease is scaring and deadly which, however, can be treated if it’s earlier diagnosed according to medical experts. Government has managed to supply “ARVs” as one of the medicines to at least calm down the virus.
The community has always desisted from socializing with positive persons claiming one can be infected through using the same equipment like razorblades, knives among other.
Ms Dorcas Eseri, an activist from ‘mother to mother Uganda’, an organization fighting for the rights of persons living with HIV, says these people are normal like any other human being, adding that they discriminate them for nothing. She says they need to be treated in the way any other person is treated in the community.
“These are normal people who go to school, look for jobs and eat food like others. We shouldn’t do away with them, just that they are sick but getting treated,” says Ms Eseri.
She adds that; “some HIV people discriminate and also fear themselves while others are feared by public. We always have dialogues with infected people and counsel them.”
“The girl child who is infected faces more challenges in relationships because a moment the partner gets to know that her girl friend is HIV positive, there and then they do separate. But still we have youth groups in health centers to mobilize colleagues to go for TASO,” she said.
“Some churches don’t wed people with HIV. They claim one can infect the other which gives chance to the infected persons to go in community and transmit the disease because they think they’re already discriminated,” Eseri added.
In his response, however, Mr Godfrey Babisi, a religious leader in Kamuli district, says the law of wedding doesn’t allow to wed a couple where one is HIV positive. He notes that only if the two partners are HIV positive, the wedding can be successful and recognized.
“No, the law doesn’t allow us to wed a couple where, one is positive. Unless they go to court and get permitted by courts of law,” says Babisi.
“The wedding process takes some good time, and as church we take the couples for HIV test without them knowing. We actually use government health centers and the church remains with the results. If one is positive then we advise and guide them on what to do,” he added.
Ms Eseri, however, appreciates government for the services offered to HIV persons as medicine (ARVs) is available in health centers. She says medics have fairly handled the people with HIV when they go for health facilities.