Every year the world comes together to commemorate World Aids Day which is on 1st December. It is a time set to honour those who live positively, those who we’ve lost through AIDS and also it’s a period for the global community to renew their commitments in fighting the AIDS debacle. Personally, it is one of those days that I remember Nyumbani Orphanage. A place that started as hospice for HIV orphans to an institution of care and HIV knowledge. I have the first hand experience witnessing the negative side of HIV.
Every year, there is usually a theme that brings the world together to celebrate the achievements in fighting HIV/AIDS. This year the mantra is ‘Right to Health’. The World Health Organisation interprets this year’s theme as: the 36.7 million people living with HIV and those who are vulnerable and affected by the epidemic, should get and be allowed to receive adequate health coverage. On the other side, UNAIDS reads 2017 theme as: everyone deserves quality health care, good sanitation, adequate housing and access to justice.
For me, Right to Health is Right for Information. That means, going back to basics of HIV/AIDS. Do we know what HIV is? What are the implications of HIV to communities? Why should the world set a side a whole day for HIV? Why? We can’t afford to be complacent. We still have over a million people dying yearly as a result of HIV/AIDS. 69% of those affected are in Africa.
Right to Health Care should be Right for Information. So, back to HIV 101.
HIV-Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks immune system, restricting the patient the ability to mount a defence against infections, while AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome ) is the most severe phase of the disease, it is the killer not the virus (HIV). A lot of resources including man power and constant research, have been used in fighting HIV/AIDS and the success is phenomenon. Introduction of Antiretroviral drugs is a miracle. The drugs suppress the replication of the virus in the body while also allowing the immune system to strengthen and rebuilds itself. We need to communicate this information to those vulnerable. With ARVs one can live a normal life.
Apart from ARVs, we’ve got PrEP-pre-exposure prophylaxis which is used to keep HIV negative people from becoming infected. It has been tested and approved to be effective. Another development is PEP- Post-exposure prophylaxis. This is to prevent HIV infection especially to those that may have been exposed to the virus. Some refer to PEP as emergency drugs
So how many people have the information about PrEP or Pep? Are they available to the most vulnerable?
Medicine have developed and HIV is no longer a death sentence. While science have improved, we can’t get tired with creating awareness of the pandemic. We constantly need to remind ourselves of the effects of HIV, how we can protect ourselves and those that we love and most importantly, how drugs can be available for everyone who needs them.
Lets have a holistic Right to Health; information, drugs and effects.