HIV/AIDS; a mans disease suffered by women

The title of this post is offensive, beautifully sexist and unfair. To be honest, if I was a man judging from the title alone I would never read my blog again. I promise, I did not say it. The title is a statement that was made by the Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi last week ahead of World Aids Day on December 1st.

For so long we have spoken about HIV/AIDS yet there has been minimal change. We have had slogans such us condomise, don’t compromise; Adverts that advocate for people to get tested with their partners first before they have sex and TV shows and movies that show the effect of HIV/AIDS on families, those who are infected as well as those who are affected. Do people really pay attention though? And is all of this enough?

Watching television this week I realised that all of a sudden there were approximately 3-5 ads a day about HIV. We are starting to treat HIV like Christmas or Valentines Day. So much hype once a year, advertising campaigns, the red ribbons, the motivational speakers at community halls, a young sermon at church and then after World Aids Day we move on forget about HIV till next year. HIV season ends.

It is incredible how we as people assume that it is the uneducated who do not practise responsible sex. We assume that the person in the rural areas who does not have access to television and politicians is the root of the spread of HIV and is most ignorant about the disease. Such rubbish. So many people in previously model C high schools and in universities do not even know what HIV/AIDS stands for, yet they are so quick to laugh about Manto Tshabalala and the beetroot. My mother works in health and she has heard Health Professionals, Doctors and Professors make comments like “Sex is better nyama to nyama, skin to skin.” People who you would expect to be the most responsible right? Ignorance is bliss until you test positive.

I loved the show intersexions because it was so realistic. It is so easy to spread the disease and honestly you have no idea who you have had sex with via your current partner. It may seem far-fetched to those who watch it on television but if someone decided to do a University reality show we could have our own Intersexions reality show. It shocks me though that in 2011 sexually active couples are more worried about an unwanted pregnancy than they are about HIV. There is no HIV elite. Anyone can get it and you actually don’t know what your partner was up to before they met you. And sometimes you do, but I guess because of who he is you assume he couldn’t possibly have HIV. You know that this guy or girl has been with 2 in 5 people on campus. They are probably a talking disease on legs yet you jump into bed with them no questions asked. That seems like a horrible thing to say but sometimes you need to be blunt to get drive a point home.

HIV is NOT about ‘trusting’ your partner. Anyone can say they do not have HIV, anyone can claim they have been faithful to all their partners but seriously, they cannot be sure that their partners have been faithful to them. You need to take responsibility for your OWN health. The comment made by the Minister just shows us where we still are as a country. Shifting the blame, but not taking our health into our own hands. Yes there are those men or women who have been raped, there are those children who get the disease from their mothers, there are those women in marriages with men who refuse to use condoms and bring the disease home to their wives because they are unfaithful. But what about the rest?

You need to get a grip and realise that it is easy to get HIV and you can’t get rid of it. Stop treating it like an arms length phenomenon and get tested. If you have it, deal and behave responsibly. If you don’t you are not lucky behave you still need to behave responsibly. You may be afraid of bringing up the “let’s get tested” conversation but look at your choices this way: how much do I have to lose compared to how much I have to gain.
Choose you and choose life. As cheesy as that seems, that’s just the way it is. And if you are not educated about HIV/AIDS read some articles online or better yet, ask somebody.



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