Kaunda: Aids is just like any other disease

imageFormer Zambia President Kenneth Kaunda on Sunday joined other foreign dignitaries and Malawians to launch the commemoration of this year’s International Aids Candlelight Memorial held at Civo Stadium in the country’s Capital City Lilongwe.

During his address Kaunda said the ceremony was very significant as it brought together stakeholders from different parts of the world to renew their commitment in the campaign to work together and eradicate the pandemic in the whole world.

Kaunda observed that this year’s theme ‘Never give up never forget’ is a call to action on all people to remain committed and charming to fight HIV and AIDS, especially among the underprivileged, until it is completely stamped out.

“In my humble view, the theme for this year is a call to action on all of us to remain steadfast and charming to fight this pandemic until victory is achieved. We need to join hands as the people of one world with a common purpose to serve God’s children, particularly the less privileged in society,” he said.

He said as an HIV/AIDS activist, he was delighted to note that the aim of the global candlelight memorial was to bring communities together in honor of those who have died because of AIDS and encourage people living with HIV to come out in open as a way of combating stigma and discrimination, which have always been associated with those infected with the virus.

Furthermore Kaunda advised that in order to achieve the goal of eradicating the pandemic, people must take HIV/AIDS as any other disease, and therefore people living with the virus should get all the love and support from all concerned parties.

“The aim of achieving this goal can not be over emphasized if we are to succeed in our efforts. The campaign should therefore be maintained by accepting that AIDS is just like any other disease and that people infected with the virus should get our loving care and compassion,” advised the ex- Zambia leader, revealing that he lost his son to an AIDS related illness.

“I wish to inform this august gathering about my personal experience, when my wife and I lost our 30-year old son to an AIDS related illness in 1986. At that time not much was known about the disease and people were reluctant to shed light or being near those infected.

“As the head of state in Zambia at that time, I felt the need to take a leadership role in this campaign by doing what I thought would help to eliminate the silence and since then people have been coming out in the open disclosing their HIV/AIDS status,” he disclosed.

This year’s AIDS Candlelight Memorial has been the eleventh and about 2600 memorials were held in 115 countries worldwide.

At the moment, Malawi’s prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS has been reduced to 12% from 2004’s rate of 15%. About 250 000 people require anti-retro viral (ARV) drugs, however the number patients accessing the drugs is currently at 150 000.

Source: Nyasa Times