Observer on Saturday - - News - Sto­ries by Samke­lisiwe Khoza

bout 270 816 fe­males tested for HIV in 2016 com­pared to 148 131 males. SNAP Man­ager Muhle Dlamini said HIV test­ing is essen­tial for ex­pand­ing treat­ment and en­sur­ing that peo­ple liv­ing with HIV lead healthy and pro­duc­tive lives.

Dlamini was speak­ing dur­ing the dou­ble cel­e­bra­tion of the United Na­tions (UN) com­mem­o­ra­tion of World AIDS Day and farewell func­tion for Is­rael Des­salegne on Thurs­day. The cel­e­bra­tion was held at the UN of­fices in Mba­bane.

He said there were 418 947 Emaswati who tested for HIV and 27 486 tested pos­i­tive.

“It is essen­tial to know your sta­tus. It is also cru­cial to achieve the na­tional tar­gets of be­ing a de­vel­oped state. It em­pow­ers peo­ple to make choices about HIV pre­ven­tion so they pro­tect them­selves and their loved ones,” Dlamini said.

How­ever, Dlamini said quite a num­ber

Aof Emaswati still strug­gle to fit back to the so­ci­ety af­ter know­ing their HIV sta­tus.

“Most HIV pos­i­tive Emaswati stig­ma­tise and judge them­selves be­fore the so­ci­ety. Many peo­ple have fears, prej­u­dices or neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes about HIV. Stigma can re­sult in peo­ple liv­ing with HIV be­ing in­sulted, re­jected, gos­siped about and ex­cluded from so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties. At its ex­treme, stigma can drive peo­ple to phys­i­cal vi­o­lence,” he said.

“Some peo­ple when they hear that some­one is HIV pos­i­tive - es­pe­cially us Africans – they’ll be see­ing some­one who’s dy­ing, some­one who is not sup­posed to touch any­one.”

He added that peo­ple liv­ing with HIV of­ten feel ner­vous about telling oth­ers that they have HIV due to the fear of stigma or dis­crim­i­na­tion.

This can lead to iso­la­tion and feel­ing un­sup­ported, which can have a neg­a­tive - im­pact on health and well­be­ing.

PLEAS­ANTRIES: Out­go­ing UN Res­i­dent Co­or­di­na­tor Is­rael Des­salegne and World Bank's Edit Ve­lenyi shar­ing alight mo­ment.

IN NUM­BERS: Des­salegne pos­ing with some of the in­vited guests.

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