"Stigma against people who are living with HIV presents an invisible barrier in treating the epidemic. Early treatment of HIV infections is one of the best ways to slow the spread of the virus, but the stigma that still surrounds the disease leads people to delay HIV testing, put off much-needed care or not reveal their infection status to others, especially health care providers," said IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson on Health, Mrs Nkwanyana, MPL.
"There is much work that still needs to be done to tackle the stigma in society. I hope that small steps such as exhibitions and community awareness will help decrease the stigma and discrimination against people who are living with HIV in South Africa. The bottom line is to avert HIV infections and related deaths and to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV," continued Mrs Nkwanyana.
"To eradicate this scourge we believe that knowledge about HIV prevention, transmission and treatment can offset the stigma that is caused by misinformation and ignorance. Education programs are still needed in many areas and will continue to be needed for successive generations of young people. Policymakers need to consider the potential consequences of laws to make sure they don’t inadvertently increase HIV/AIDS-related stigma. HIV infected persons must be involved in designing, running and evaluating stigma reduction programs. One approach is to train and support people to advocate for themselves. Prevention, coping and adherence programs for HIV infected persons should directly address stigma and its effects on their well-being," concluded Mrs Nkwanyana.
The IFP further believes that promising stigma awareness and reduction programs need to be evaluated and published widely. In addition it also encourages young people to abstain from sex before marriage or practice safe sex by using condoms.
Mrs Ncamisile Nkwanyana MPL, IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson on Health, 084 736 5183 / 078 302 3991
For Media Enquiries:
IFP KZN Provincial Legislature Media Liaison Officer, Mr Phendulani Biyase, 073 024 5675