The Plight of Young People Living with HIV in Malawi
It is now a known fact that HIV is now manageable as compared to how the situation was in the last two decades. People living with HIV are now able to live healthy and productive lives without the fear of death which loosely became the synonym of HIV some years ago.
Through various ways, more and more young people are living with HIV. The coming in of Antiretroviral Drugs is a major step towards having healthy and strong young people. Both those Living with HIV and those who are not are able to contribute positively to the development of the country in their capacities as young people.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about providing necessary support to young people who are living with HIV. However, I have not really seen a lot in terms of action towards ensuring that Young People Living HIV/AIDS are given the much needed support. If there is a group of people who need to be heard and their concerns addressed are the young people who are living with HIV.
The inattention that is given to YPLHA has led to increased number of them to default drugs and eventually develop AIDS. Many young people have been lost due to our uncaring attitudes.
Having HIV is a health issue and just like any other personal healthy issue, YPLHA have been longing for privacy. They have always wanted to make sure that their HIV status is not known to others. This is due to a number of valid reasons and it would be good to work on the issues that are there to guarantee them this wish. For instance, YPLHV who are in boarding schools face a lot of challenges to get a permission to go to hospital to collect ARTs.
Why do teachers have to ask so many question?
Why do teachers disclose this to every staff member who later go out to tell other students?
This leads to the worst stigma ever on the school compass. When their status is known, YPLHA have to brave and endure discrimination in all its various forms. However, it is hard to concentrate when the whole compass seems to be sidelining you and maybe a few others. We should not except such young people to excel in their studies because the position they have been places on is worse than I a prison cell where everyone treats another as a fellow prisoner and not an outsider.
There are so many situations that have put the lives of YPLHA in danger. We need to work on this as a nation. Let us listen to the voices of YPLHA…even their silence has to be properly comprehended, it is a communication and we need to know what it means.