Why propagating fear in fight against HIV and Aids is toxic
Several strides have been realised in containing the HIV and Aids pandemic since 1984 when the first case was reported in Kenya.
Through awareness-creation, the country is no longer ignorant of the disease. Many know about its spread and control mechanisms.
Furthermore, the antiretrovirals now reach millions of people while prevention of mother-to-child transmission has helped in reducing infections in children.
However, gains registered over the years are gradually emptied by stigma associated with the disease. Although a few have overcome the stigma tag, many others are living in denial.
Ignorant to this fact, organisations and volunteers fronting the anti-HIV campaigns are not only ordinary in their approach, but also lack skills to handle such a delicate topic.
I’m not sure whether policies towards HIV prevalence are designed to propagate fear or inform and provide solutions, since the negative perception approach is a toxic pill that only generates punctured efforts.
First, sexual intimacy is a choice. But it is the recklessness by which sexual conduct and choices are made that exposes one to the risks.
Again, presence of friendlier options like condom use excites irresponsible conduct among the sexually-active.
Behaviour change and sound choices are essential in reversing risky engagements.
HIV testing is voluntary according to the HIV and Aids Prevention and Control Act 2009. The act further guarantees patients privacy and confidentiality besides shielding those infected from discrimination.
While on this, strategy proposals, like partner management systems, lack clarity on their execution under the so-called network without violating constitutional provisions.
Besides, this approach might spark enlargement of the network webs if prematurely unmasked.
Spiralling prevalence across age brackets is a consequence of untested policy approaches. Blind group messaging and targeting only facilitates prevalence shifts to another grouping perceived to be safer.
Public perception is key when it comes to social engagements. If and when originated, assessment on their impact should be done to avert boomerangs.
Incidentally, matters sexuality are complex and hard to mechanise. The only way out of the shifting quagmire is to strategise on less risky choices by formulating policy strategies that offer solutions and not propagating fear. Fear of contracting HIV is unfounded.
Again, the widely held view that infected persons can only be skinny with failing health is unfortunate, hence the need to further dig into related topical subjects with vigour adopted to the sexuality topic.
Let us tackle grey areas that offer refuge to the cynics. Among them is the discordance question, doctor-patient confidentiality, church confessions and miracles, et cetera.
KIRAGU KARIUKU, Nyeri