Unsafe sex has been blamed for the rapid spread of HIV, which later becomes full-blown AIDS. Africa as a continent has been on the receiving end of the scourge with millions dying in the late 1990’s. However, towards the year 2000 going forward, there have been initiatives to enlighten the general public on HIV/AIDS, how to protect oneself from the virus and ways to live positively with the virus.
Due to the increased awareness of the virus and the reduction of stigmatization of people living with AIDS, there has been a decrease in the number of new infections across the continent. While some countries like South Africa still have a large portion of the population with AIDS, the number of new infections is going down. Several media initiatives and campaigns have been at the forefront of spreading the word that was hitherto regarded as a taboo. Here are some of them.
Shuga is the African version of the UK TV series named: “Skins”, but with sexual health information running throughout. The show is meant to educate and encourage people to talk about the scourge. It has been helpful especially to the youth who are under financial and emotional pressure to have sex.
HEAIDS is a project that offers HIV/STI and TB information and testing. The testing is done through mo+bile clinics stationed near colleges and Universities across South Africa. The program also has Future Beats Project, which a behavior change communication programmer that reaches to the youth through social media and radio. This program has over a million listeners.
This campaign is aimed at ensuring at least 90 per cent the people with HIV know their status, and at least 90 per cent of them are receiving treatment. Once one is tested for the HIV and found to be positive, treatment starts almost immediately. The campaign also involves advice on safe sex along with condom distribution.
Nairobi has several voluntary testing centers across the city and its suburbs. There are also several non-governmental organizations that set up mobile counseling and testing centers across the city. Some of the places where one can get tested include Nairobi Deaf Voluntarily Counselling and Testing Center, LVCT Health, National AIDS and STI’s Control Programme office and Umoja VCT centre. There are other VCT centers spread across the country.
Lagos also has several non-governmental organizations and government programs that offer HIV testing services. One can get the test free at several major public hospitals. Other locations include LiveWell Initiative, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research and Foundation For Alleviation of Illiteracy, Poverty and AIDS.
Most of the government and private hospitals offer free HIV testing and counseling. Some of the locations providing the service include Witkoppen Health and Welfare Center, ZuziMpilo Medical Center, Nationwide Testing Services and DNA Diagnostic Center.
Kampala has several NGO’s and public hospitals that offer HIV testing and counseling scattered across the city and its suburbs. One may visit any of these that includes KCCA Health Center, SAS Clinic, International Medical Center Kololo and AHF Uganda Cares.
Ghana has taken steps to encourage voluntary HIV testing and counseling. Some of the places one can go for testing includes Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana, Akai House Clinic and Medlab Ghana. Major government hospitals also offer voluntary HIV testing.
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