A cancerous tumour is growing among African youth of middle class. Young people have found their way back to prehistoric times when HIV/AIDS was heavily stigmatized. We have gone back to the times where HIV/AIDS was a promiscuous poor man’s disease.
Through national and regional campaigns throughout the continent, mass campaigns travelled to more remote areas where access to information about HIV/AIDS and health care is commonly unfound. The assumption that young people in urbanized areas are within reach of access to information through campaigns being on national media streams, without the robust personal approach found in towns and villages that allow youth to understand the true nature of the pandemic, and giving them access to necessary health care.
Although statistically, there is a decline in the number of AIDS related deaths. According to UNAIDS, the recorded deaths in 2014 was ranks 48% lower than AIDS related deaths in 2005. But it is too early to direct this to a reduction in the spread of HIV/AIDS if we do not have a society that encourages and normalizes HIV/AIDS testing. The current reasons why young people do not get tested lies within fear, the belief that the virus is particularly found in less urban areas and you can only contract the virus through unprotected sex while your drunk with a shady looking character. Unfortunate truth is, HIV/AIDS has the look of a dirty, dying man lying on a make-shift in a shack. An image that doesn’t resonate with the privileged young African – spending months on end not going for regular testing with or without a partner.
Like annual flue vaccinations or visits to the dentist, it should be normal for people to go for testing – particularly young Africans. We cannot only talk about HIV/AIDS socially on the surface on the 1st of December –and we swiftly move on as the clock strikes 12. HIV/AIDS is not an annual reappearing Cinderella slipper that we should be ignorant to out of fear of the social stigma.
In order to ensure there is a healthy societal understanding with the virus, we must extend our awareness campaigns and research conduction from just who is HIV positive, to the capacity of people going for testing. From NGO’s engaging with the city’s young people on a more intimate basis to us taking genuine stock of all facets of our health, we need to holistically reduce the spread of the virus through simply knowing our status – better we are aware than ignorant.