DURBAN, June 10 – South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched an anti-HIV Stigma Campaign in conjunction with the holding of the 7th South African AIDS Conference currently underway in Durban.
Scientists, activists and government leaders are meeting here this week to reflect on South Africa’s AIDS story, and to assess on how to move forward in tackling the disease. The country continues to bear the brunt of the disease globally, with 18 per cent of the world’s HIV-positive population.
Gugu Dlamini was stoned and stabbed to death in her community at KwaMashu, near here, in 1998, after she disclosed her HIV status. Her daughter was 13-years-old at the time. Dlamini’s daughter, Mandisa Dlamini, says she was labelled a seed of HIV and was not allowed to make mistakes because she was an AIDS orphan.
The government is calling on South Africans not to discriminate against those who are HIV-positive. According to a HIV-stigma survey conducted by the South African National AIDS Council, more than 10,000 people living with the disease participated in the survey.
The results revealed that one in three people living with HIV had experienced some form of discrimination but of greatest concern was the 43 per cent who suffered what experts call “internalised stigma”. This includes blaming themselves, which will lead to withdrawal, while 11 per cent have suicidal feelings.
It is hoped the survey, which is the biggest of its kind in the world, will assist the government in dealing with issues relating to the stigma.
The conference ends on Friday.