World AIDS Day takes place on 1 December 2018 – a day when people from around the world unite in order to support, fight, educate and spread awareness about HIV/AIDS.
This year, the theme is ‘Know my Status’, aimed at encouraging everyone to get tested for HIV/AIDS and depending on the outcome, have the knowledge to take the appropriate action. It’s vital to understand that with the right treatment, anyone with HIV can live a long and happy life.
Marie Stopes is here for you
Marie Stopes South Africa is the largest provider of women’s reproductive and sexual health services in the country. A significant part our vision is to help eliminate stigma through education, spreading awareness and giving women access to these services.
You can be assured that if you visit one of our centres for HIV/AIDS testing, the consultation will be completely confidential. A nurse will discuss any concerns you may have and recommend necessary tests.
An HIV test is a quick procedure. The nurse will take a pin-prick of blood from your finger. The blood will be placed on a testing strip and analysed. The result will be available in 15 – 20 minutes. It’s that simple.
However, the unfortunate reality is that the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS prevent women and men from getting tested for the virus, only seeking help when they become symptomatic.
According to UNAIDS, ‘Today three in four people living with HIV know their status. But we still have miles to go, as the latest UNAIDS report shows, and that includes reaching people living with HIV who do not know their status and ensuring that they are linked to quality care and prevention services.’
This serves as a reminder that even though we have seen significant progress in the battle against the disease, it’s a pandemic; and there is still a great need to keep raising money and continuing to fight prejudice around the world.
We recommend that men and women make an appointment for a comprehensive sexual health screening with includes HIV and STI testing.
Education and awareness about contraception that prevents transmission of STIs is another mainstay of MSSA’s mission. Using condoms during sexual intercourse is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from contracting HIV. Male and female condoms are available from MSSA.
Here’s what women need to know about female condoms: it needs to be inserted internally. One of the benefits is that you can insert it up to eight hours before sex and the condom will still be effective. It covers a larger surface area than a male condom which decreases the amount of skin-to-skin contact, reducing the chances of contracting an STI.
Remember that even though this takes place one day a year, the opportunity to support those living with HIV/AIDS continues 24/7, 365 days a year.
So, please ‘ROCK the Ribbon’ on 1 December 2018 to show your support for education and spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS throughout South Africa.