Everyone is vulnerable to HIV/Aids infection; who’s save?

at 07:02 PM, 15 Aug 13 (4 years ago)
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Health is a critical element in determining the quality of people’s lives. Every person has the right to access the highest standard of physical and mental health attainable, without discrimination. This includes access to adequate health care, nutrition, sanitation, clean water and air and occupational health.
History tells a sad story about the economic consequences of hunger, malnutrition and disease. When children are under-nourished, their cognitive development is retarded. This can have permanent consequences like reducing mental function and general ability to solve life challenges and problems.
Nearly three decades now, the HIV and Aids epidemic has caused a lot of negative impact with no cure insight.
Gender inequalities are said to be a major driving force behind the Aids pandemic.
The human face of HIV and Aids in Zimbabwe is disproportionately continuing to be that of women, especially young women. Gender inequalities, patriarchal attitudes, cultural practices and gender- based violence all increase women’s vulnerability to HIV infection. Intergenerational relationships, sexual violence and early marriages within some religious sects increase the HIV risk of adolescent girls.
In low and middle income societies worldwide, HIV and Aids is the leading cause of death and poor health amongst women of reproductive age.
Men and boys are vulnerable too. They are affected by gender expectations that may encourage risky behaviour, discourage accessing health services and narrowly define their roles as partners and family members.
The rate of HIV testing and treatment is lower among men compared to women.
Gender roles and relations powerfully influence the course and impact of the HIV pandemic. Gender related factors shape the extent to which men, women, boys and girls are vulnerable to HIV infection, the ways in which Aids affects them and the kind of responses that are feasible in different communities and societies.
Addressing Gender and HIV and Aids in March this year, Ambassador Eric Goosby U.S Global Aids co-ordinator said, “HIV and Aids is not just a health issue. It is a social issue that impacts men and women differently, and it is an issue linked with and affected by gender inequality. Our success of fighting this epidemic is tied to our ability to recognize and respond to this reality.”
According to the Women and Aids Chapter of the Aids Epidemic Update, increasingly “HIV and Aids is striking women. Today more than 20 years into the epidemic, women account for nearly half the 33 million people living with HIV worldwide.
In sub Saharan Africa 76 percent of young people living with HIV are female.
Despite this alarming trend, women know less than men about how HIV is transmitted and how to prevent infection. Violence against women is both a cause and consequence of Aids.”
Zimbabwe is one of the countries in Southern Africa worst affected by HIV and Aids, a region at the epicenter of the pandemic. At the national level, life expectancy fell dramatically from just over 57 years in 1982 to about 50yrs in 1995, an estimated 39yrs in 2003 and 37 years in 2007.
However, recent data from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare suggests that adult HIV prevalence declined to 14.3 percent in 2009 when an estimated 1 187 822 adults and children were living with HIV and Aids.
The decline in HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe is attributed to prevention programmes,behavioural change, prevention of mother to child transmission and the impact of mortality health care.(Beyond the Enclave 9:375)
However, collective efforts were made by the health authorities to maintain community engagement and service provision to expand access to HIV prevention and treatment services.
Awareness campaigns were done in secondary schools, tertiary institutions, workplaces, hospitals and in clinics through banners, pamphlets, activities and oral education.
A practical manual on HIV prevention by the SAfAIDS Information Dissemination service states: “Zimbabwe is facing major social, economic and political challenges due to the HIV epidemic. The nation continues to see reductions in life expectancy, increasing adult morbidity and mortality, increasing numbers of orphans and resurgent tuberculosis while resources continue to diminish.”
According to the UNAIDS, Zimbabwe is said to have achieved one of the sharpest declines in HIV prevalence in Southern Africa from 27 percent in 1997 to just more than 14 percent in 2010.
With 10 times fewer resources for Aids per capita than other countries in sub Saharan Africa, Zimbabwe has expanded coverage of antiretroviral treatment among adults from 15 percent in 2007 to 80 percent in 2010.
At the end of 2011, nearly half a million people in the country were receiving life-saving HIV treatment and care.
Addressing gender norms and inequities is necessary to reduce HIV risk and increase access to services for everyone.
HIV and Aids programmes can address harmful gender norms and stereotypes (including working with men and boys) to change norms related to fatherhood, sexual responsibility, decision making and violence.

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