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Saturday, September 28, 2013

VOLUNTARY TESTING AND COUNSELLING IN HIV PREVENTION


VOLUNTARY TESTING AND COUNSELLING IN HIV PREVENTION SHOULD BE BASED ON SOUND PUBLIC HEALTH SCIENCES THAN MISGUIDED ACTIVISM-  PRESS RELEASE 
KATELE KALUMBA

THE CALL FOR VOLUNTARY TESTING AND COUNSELLING IN THE QUEST FOR HIV PREVENTION AND POSITIVE LIVING SHOULD BE BASED ON SOUND METHODS DRAWN FROM PUBLIC HEALTH SCIENCES INCLUDING HEALTH BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES. PREVENTION AND PROMOTION PROGRAMS SUCH AS VCT NEED TO BE TIED INTO THE HUMAN CONDITION IN ALL ITS MANIFESTATIONS. WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT YOU DO OR KNOW DOES NOT ALWAYS TRANSLATE INTO ACTIONS TO REDUCE YOUR RISK-TAKING BEHAVIOR. PEOPLE DO TAKE SEXUAL RISKS EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE FOOLISH BUT BECAUSE UNDER SPECIFIC HUMAN CONDITIONS, THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE MOVED TO DO. PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE, HAVE NEED FOR COMPANIONSHIP AND EVEN MARRY WITH CLEAR KNOWLEDGE THAT THOSE THEY MARRY MAY BE SUFFERING FROM A TRANSMISSIBLE DISEASE. IN OUR HUMAN CONDITION, IT IS OFTEN THINKABLE THAT AN INDIVIDUAL CAN CHOOSE TO GIVE UP HIS OR HER OWN LIFE IN THE QUEST FOR LOVE AND CARE. THESE ‘NEEDS’ OF LOVE AND COMPANIONSHIP MAY RATE MUCH HIGHER ON THE SCALE THAN THE FEAR OF CONTAGION. THERE ARE PEOPLE WILLING TO DIE TOGETHER, TO SUFFER TOGETHER, AND TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER UNDER THE MOST UNBEARABLE CONDITIONS.
CURRENT APPROACHES TO HIV PREVENTION AND POSITIVE LIVING WILL FAIL IF THEY DO NOT RECOGNIZE THE COMPLEXITY OF THE HUMAN CONDITION BY THE IMPLICIT MESSAGE THAT PEOPLE GO AND GET TESTED SO THAT THEY CAN KNOW THEIR STATUS AND PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM THOSE WHO MAY BE INFECTED. THE TERM LIVING POSITIVELY SEEMS TO HAVE NO CLEAR BEHAVIOURAL SCIENTIFIC MEANING. THE MEDIA CALL FOR LEADERS TO GO FOR TESTING AND ANNOUNCE THEIR RESULTS, IS ANOTHER STRATEGY THAT IS NOT BASED ON ANY SOUND SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE. AT ANY RATE, MOST LEADERS WHO HAVE GONE FOR VCT AND GONE PUBLIC HAVE ALWAYS TESTED NEGATIVE! DOES IT MEAN HIV IS ONLY FOR THE POOR? THE FACT IS WE KNOW LEADERS WHO HAVE DIED FROM HIV RELATED DISEASES. UNLESS WE TAKE A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH WHICH APPRECIATES THE HUMAN CONDITION WE MAY CONTRIBUTE TO STIGMATIZING HIV INFECTED PERSONS BY TRANSFORMING VCT INTO AN INSTRUMENT OF MEDICAL POLICING. THAT IS NOT PUBLIC HEALTH SCIENCE. IT IS PUBLIC HEALTH ADMINISTRATION. I THEREFORE CALL UPON THE NATIONAL AIDS COUNCIL TO USE EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY STRATEGIES ON HIV-PREVENTION RATHER THAN MSIGUIDED ACTIVITISM.

KATELE KALUMBA, PhD (Public Health Toronto)  Friday, August 29, 2008