Forgetting HIV/AIDS, focusing on COVID-19

Joseph Moyo says a spotlight should not be on the mitigation of HIV only on one single day, December 1 – the World AIDS Day.

“We bemoan how HIV/AIDS has been almost forgotten because we are now focused on the new kid on the block, COVID-19. Yet HIV continues to ravage. Even media houses have moved their lenses on to focus on ‘new’ problems. Women continue to suffer more, either as caregivers or indeed as victims when men infect them and sometimes get accused of infecting their partners,” observes Moyo. “Countries should not remove focus from HIV and AIDS because it continues to ravage the region where the rate is higher. Equally, nutrition provision remains a huge challenge for HIV patients because antiretroviral therapy without nutrition is not good. Let’s not have a spotlight shined on the mitigation of HIV only on one single day, December 1, and thereafter move to other issues such as COVID-19 all because of financial benefits it comes along with.”

Joseph is right. We cannot go into COVID-19 overdrive and vacillate at the same time on other ailments or diseases that are still highly prevalent in our society – nation. We can’t lower the guard against HIV and AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and the now more pronounced Non-Communicable Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension including issues of obesity. These are still and will continue to be huge public health concerns – burden – for milleniums.

Any relaxation on these diseases where inroads were made prior to the emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic will spell doom for our people. It’ll be an apocalypse to our nation – an Armageddon to humanity.

So we need all hands on deck. The Coronavirus, understandably, is occupying all the spaces – every lip is uttering that word but these other diseases are still endemic in our country and continue to claim far more lives as we focus our attention and resources narrowly to the new pandemic.

We urge citizens and all stakeholders to raise issues renal patients, malaria burden, cancer, nutritional aspects and care to people on ART, malaria prevention and control, TB and particularly NCDs.

As Antonio Guterres urged, “On this World AIDS Day, we focus attention on the inequalities that drive HIV and AIDS. It is still possible to end the epidemic by 2030. But that will require stepped up action and greater solidarity. The United Nations General Assembly recently adopted a bold new plan to accelerate progress, including new targets for 2025.  To beat AIDS – and build resilience against the pandemics of tomorrow – we need collective action. That includes harnessing the leadership of communities to drive change, combatting stigma, and eliminating discriminatory and punitive laws, policies and practices. We must also dismantle financial barriers to health care and increase investment in vital public services to achieve Universal Health Coverage for everyone, everywhere. This will ensure equal access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care, including COVID-19 vaccinations and services. Together, let us recommit to end inequalities and end AIDS.”

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