As the first ever global health day, World Aids Day was held for the first time in 1988. Since then it has become an important annual reminder that HIV has not gone away and that there is still a vital need to increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
This year’s theme for the the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day, is “Know your status”. Communities are encouraged to care for their health by getting tested, practising safe sex and taking treatment.
Nomsa Tyali (40), who has been living with HIV since 2001, has appealed to South Africans with the virus to speak out about their infection.
“People die because of the lack of information. Disclosure is a key to a long life,” she said.
She explained that it was important for people to disclose their status and be open about it because it was helpful to others in many ways.
People living with HIV gain strength from knowing that there are others also living with the virus, that they are not alone and that there are many others living with the same condition.
Disclosure also offered hope as people can see clearly that the disease does not discriminate and affects rich and poor, young and old, saints and heathens.
“Disclosure also gives people reassurance because they know where to find help or find acceptance in times of isolation,” Tyali said.
Offering words of support, Tyali said “You can be positive, but that doesn’t make you different from others. You are a human, so you need to be accepted and loved. You are HIV positive. Not mad, not sick.”
She warned people to be brave and get tested for HIV.
“Don’t just sit back and be clueless about your health status. Go and test your blood so that you’ll stay aware of your health condition and get some assistance if you need it. Remember, the more you delay, the more the virus is taking charge of your body. Wise up, love your life, take care of HIV before it takes care of you. And never treat others with HIV badly. Understand it just happened like any other disease. Never laugh at them and never judge. Be supportive,” Tyali urged.