THE stigma and discrimination associated with HIV are impediments to effectively tackling the AIDS epidemic and must be eliminated completely, a local organisation has said.
Anglican Relief and Development in Zimbabwe programmes officer, Mr Gamuchidzai Chiinze, said HIV-related stigma and discrimination affect the emotional well-being and mental health of people living with HIV.
They are also barriers that restrict access to prevention, testing and treatment for those at risk, he added.
He said their organisation was working with communities in Makoni, Mutasa and Mutare to empower people living with HIV to enable them to become self-reliant and lead health lives.
“Stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV is a major obstacle that hinders interventions and efforts to tackle AIDS. Those people at the receiving end may find it difficult to handle this problem and some of them may end up developing suicidal tendencies.
“As we urge society to embrace such people, we are also working on empowering them through different initiatives. This will help increase adherence to treatment as well as promote behaviour change,” said Mr Chiinze.
He added that eliminating all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination is instrumental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and targets by 2030, including ending AIDS.
Zimbabwe today joins the rest of the world to commemorate the 2021 World Aids Day which is running under the theme: “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics.”