“If you judge people, you have not time to love them.”-Mother Teresa
At any cost an army is supposed to fight in unison. Though with different ranks and tasks, but their success or failure is collective. When one is shot, a comrade does not run to finish off but lends a hand to an ailing pal.
Malawi as a nation is losing the battle against HIV/AIDS because of stigma and discrimination. Despite mammoth amounts of funding being spent on raising awareness on the detriments of segregating our beloved who are suffering from the virus, it seems all the efforts have mounted to nothing.
Following proceedings in several chat groups both online and in the real world, one cannot fail to notice the thick seeds of myths and misconceptions that surround the disease. Such delusions have led to the people in our communities believing that everyone who has the virus engaged in some promiscuous behaviour
The demise of certain well known people in our society has caused stir especially on the social media. Various speculations pop up and from the comments it is evident how our society is uninformed of the virus. Such news go viral to the extreme extent of damaging reputation of some admired figures in our society. If this is not enough, the ‘holier than toughs’ encourage their pals to avoid interacting with the said ‘culprits’ labelling them as ‘bad news.’ Is this the Malawi we deserve to have in this 21st century?
It is really pathetic that as the World Aids day commemoration is being commemorated on the theme; ‘Getting to Zero on discrimination’. The truth on the ground does not reflect this. Theoretically a lot of people have embraced the HIV/Aids theorems but when it comes to reality, we are losing the battle against stigmatisation in our communities.
That is why our brothers and sisters who are suffering from this disease continue to hide when they go to the hospitals to receive anti-retroviral therapy treatment. As we fight towards the zero discrimination rates, we need to accept and associate with our family and friends so that they feel indifferent because they are still our beloved.
As said that the first medicine towards healing is acceptance, there is a need for all of us to accept that Aids is real but that does not mean the ones having it are destined for hell. I always wonder that if it were that us who are isolating our friends are with the virus how would we like to be treated?
That brings me to two questions which challenged a lot of people on a certain case study we used to have in secondary school. The first one required you to imagine having a fiancée who has just tested HIV positive and once you are told, what would your reaction be. Most of us easily chose to break the relationship and let the partner move on to avoid contracting the virus.
Then the same question was turned that if I was the one who tested positive, how would I wish my partner to react? Strangely many of us wished if our partner would understand and retain us. This portrayed how stigma and discrimination is deep within us.
As far as discrimination based on HIV zero status is concerned, the most frustrating truth is that many who are on the fore-front despising those who are found positive are the ones who haven’t gone for testing. As the Chewa saying goes ‘Chili kwa m’nzako mawa chili kwa iwe,’ it is very stupid to go wanton condemning those who are brave enough to go for testing while you are a coward who does not want to know about your health stand.
Another reason which forces such people to dodge testing is that they think other people will return to them the unfair treatment that they give to our brave soldiers who have disclosed their HIV status.
Together as a nation we are journeying into another 50 years. It is time that we reflect and choose to leave stigma and discrimination behind. Let us build a resilient community which will stand together for better for worse. Let us avoid killing off our fellow citizens but support them.
A tendency of treating our compatriots the worse sinners just because they have the virus has degraded our humanity for so long. Let us form a society where love must be a focal point and we will conquer the evil that continues to stalk our nation.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :