By Charles Okecha
Much gratitude goes to countries and donor agencies that have assisted our country in the fight against HIV/AIDS ever since the outbreak of the disease.
It is memorable that in the late 1980’s places like Rakai became depopulated and inhabited by child parents, as infants assumed family responsibilities when adults died. Shortly afterward the plague invaded the civil service and soldiers, policemen, pilots, doctors, engineers and all categories of officials succumbed to the plague.
In my view stories about the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS plague in our country should have circulated incessantly and taught in schools.
Unfortunately our post-independence history has not yet been published for the school curriculum. The ABC strategy that scaled down the plague in the absence of antiretroviral drugs to make the country again teem with people should have been a Tojjittaa (never let go)!
Apparently, most adverts lay more emphasis on early antiretroviral treatment rather than avoiding infection or re-infection altogether.
Posters that hang or circulate in the encourage victims not to hide in fear due to stigma against the disease which is commendable being a lifeline and option left. But they don’t remind the viewer’s especially the young generation how the toll free ABC strategy worked with no palliative treatment available and still does effectively. Are these adverts there merely to account for donor funds? ARV drugs would be too expensive without donor support which we seem to mistake for a birthright! Can we guarantee continuity of such assistance when more egocentric politicians take charge or when wars/nuclear disasters breakout?
Youths are cognizant of early pregnancies but rarely mention HIV/AIDS as a lethal threat to their lives and careers because the media is busy publishing politics, football, soap operas, comedies, introductions, weddings, drama shows, movies, and so forth full last 24/7. A statutory directive is necessary to compel every media house to remind the population that HIV/AIDS is still incurable and deadly and that they should not misunderstand palliative treatment for a curative one. Isn’t malaria preventable and curable yet still kills?
A young man who was diagnosed with the disease received ARV treatment but his body systems responded negatively towards the drugs till he withdrew from some of them. His skin peeled off lie one burnt by hot steam or water each time he took them. Such strange reactions should explain why people die despite undergoing the best conventional treatment. It is thus worthwhile encouraging the present generation to embrace natural healthy lifestyles as a legacy to pass on to the coming generations. It will take a healthy population to win Olympics medals, AFCON and world cups, and grow into a high income economy.
The US military is a major recipient of funds from the federal government for medical research on diseases that could be weaponised to annihilate the American people. In our country security agencies have been involved in lots of activities both home and abroad, but I have not heard of anything like medical research or their vigorous involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Their input regarding ways of reducing deaths and infections to the disease therefore still counts. Just as terrorists, rebels and armed gangs bring death to the people so does HIV/AIDS. The people’s defence force should complete its obligations the way the US military does.
Political, cultural and religious leaders are passive and no longer vigilant to sound alarms in their speeches like the days when deaths were rampant. Besides, the presence of NGOs that provide services to victims are being mistaken to perform sensitization of non-victims.
While HIV/AIDS exists and kills, adverts against it should exist in full measure - ABC + D (drugs)
The writer is a teacher at St. Paul’s College, Mbale.