World Aids Day: HIV patients struggle to navigate Covid-19
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Durban - As World Aids Day is commemorated today, Mandisa Dlamini, the founder and executive director of the Gugu Dlamini Foundation, says the Covid19 pandemic has had an impact on many people living with HIV/Aids in KwaMashu.
Dlamini started the organisation in honour of her mother, Gugu Dlamini, who was beaten, stabbed and stoned to death in 1998 by a group of men from KwaMashu for disclosing her HIV status to the public.
Dlamini said due to the fear of Covid19, HIV-positive people had stayed away from health centres and had not collected their ARVs.
“We’ve seen high numbers of people defaulting from taking their medication because they could not go to the facilities due to the fear of Covid-19,” she said.
Dlamini said a lot of them had also lost their jobs as a result of the lockdown and were suffering from the stress from this as well as not having food to eat.
Dlamini said that while health facilities worked hard to bring medication to the community, she believed there should be places where medication is outsourced within the community.
“We need to work together as ward councillors, community and health leaders to ask: How can we utilise places around our community?”
She said the stigma attached to HIV/ Aids was still a challenge.
“You’ll find that some are not comfortable getting their medication nearby because people will know.”
In his weekly newsletter sent out yesterday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that since the Covid-19 outbreak, the lockdown and pressure on health facilities, many HIV/Aids and TB-related services had suffered.
The president said more work needed to be done on HIV prevention among key populations, including sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs.
Ramaphosa added that “we cannot hope to end HIV if we ignore the needs, concerns and rights of any part of our population”.
“Ultimately, we will achieve the end of Aids through the empowerment of young people, women and other people at risk,” he said.
“On this World Aids Day, which is taking place in the shadow of another devastating pandemic, let us intensify both our resolve and our actions to confront and overcome Aids once and for all,” said Ramaphosa.