It is one of the tragedies of our society that persons infected with HIV/AIDS not only have to bear the burden of their illness - which any person with any illness must do - but also have to face the torment of discrimination and stigma .
Our attitude to the disease rests largely on ignorance regarding the disease inspite of the massive awareness campaigns that has been conducted so far. Infact, a hardened cultural attitude to the disease has been cultivated, which, up to now, scientific and empirical information have found it difficult to penetrate.
AdvertisementThere is a general belief that HIV/AIDS can be contracted by casual relationships, rather than specific ways enunciated by the health authorities. A recent study shows that 65 per cent of persons studied would be uncomfortable to share food with or have casual contact with an HIV/AIDS suffer.
Moreover, and very important, such attitudes and behaviour, rather than bring benefits to the society, are likely to drive persons with HIV/AIDS underground, with detrimental consequences to the community.
After all, if the disease is being spread fastest through the heterosexual community, and people, out of fear of stigmatization, fail to declare their health status, the potential is great for the epidemic to gather pace. Everyone, including those who now stigmatize, is at risk. It would therefore only practical to support the government's initiative to adopt a positive attitude towards AIDS victims, for it is nonsense for persons of skill and intellect, with the capacity to contribute to the national economy, and national development, to be deprived of the opportunity.