Monday, December 03, 2007

HIV/AIDS and 16 days of activism against violence towards women and children

Dr Sipho Senabe, key thinker in the current process of drafting national policy on HIV/AIDS in our government gave a succinct, but deep analysis of the HIV/AIDS pandemic yesterday. He noted that despite the stories of hope, there remains a lot of hard work and thinking ahead. This is a challenge that will remain with us for some time. What was of interest was the way he linked the prevalence and upward curve in the spread of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa to, what he called key drivers. He focussed on one of these namely the unequal power relations amongst genders in the homes, in churches, in our communities, but also in the bedrooms. Linking this to the mission of Jesus, as captured in Luke 4:18 we are challenged to cultivate communities that address the oppressive violence against women and children, communities that stand with the vulnerable, that support them in resisting unprotected sexual intercourse and toxic relationships that keeps the spreading of this disease. The churches from various (faith)traditions remain marred in their silence and outright patriarchal interpretations of Scripture, but also practices that side with the powerful. Unless this is addressed, we are impotent to stem the tide. Indeed, there remains hard work, but also hope. This is where the Spinathon of MES becomes relevant. On Saturday, World AIDS DAY, the MES, in partnership with eTV and JakarandaFM raised funds for a hospice in the inner city of Hillbrow, but also challenged people to know their HIV status. a Booth was set up to encourage people to get tested. Few people however grabbed hold of this opportunity. Why? It seems to me that we need to do more hard work in eradicating the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. Hubert Mogaecho, one of the organizers of the event, reminds us 'HIV does not discriminate on the basis of colour, creed or class, we are all affected'
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