US reverses clock in anti-HIV/AIDS war
After doing so much to reduce the stigma associated with living with HIV/AIDS, there is bad news from unlikely quarters.
The United States of America (US), that citadel of human rights (if we ignore the historical injustices against blacks), has embarked on a deliberate policy to openly stigmatise and discriminate people living with HIV/AIDS.As a result, our Ministry of Education and Skills Development has announced that from next year, it will not sponsor people living with HIV/AIDS to study in America. This is double tragedy for people living with HIV/AIDS. Instead of making them feel that they are still part of society, the US is punishing them through an ill-advised policy. Other countries like Canada have joined this bizarre plot to reverse the clock in the gains made in the war against HIV/AIDS. Why should Canada and the US, two countries with touted credentials in human rights, democracy and liberalism behave in this manner, beats logic. Living with HIV/AIDS or a communicable disease is not a crime under any law. Indeed, we live in a world where a whole industry backed by Canada, the US and other Western countries has sprung up just to fight for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. The main focus in this battle has been discrimination and stigmatisation, some of which can be quite humiliating and undignified. We must say that through research, public education and advocacy, much ground has been covered in de-stigmatising people living with HIV/AIDS. Gone are the days when society shunned such harmless acts as shaking hands with sufferers.
Gone too, are the days when HIV/AIDS was on the rampage and getting infected was thought to be a one-way ticket to the grave. The days when only the foolhardy would declare their HIV/AIDS status in public have been consigned to the dustbins of history. That is why attempts by countries like the US and Canada to take us back to the dark days must be resisted. It is a serious indictment for countries that have made a name for themselves shouting at others about human rights, minority rights and related matters to be pursuing such misguided policies. The noise about linking Western aid to protection of gay and lesbian rights is still grating in our ears, yet the same noisemakers are having their own human rights violations. Talk about preaching water and drinking wine. The US and its Western allies have spent vast sums of money on the anti-HIV/AIDS war but what they are now doing is counterproductive.
It is only that beggars would ride if wishes were horses, otherwise under different circumstances, this would have been the time for Botswana and Africa to engage in some tit-for-tat with the US and Canada. If we were not beggars, the message would have been sent to Washington or Ottawa that they either waive the discrimination against immigrants and visitors living with HIV/AIDS or face the consequences. Engaging the world's super power is a high risk that will surely cut us out from receipt of their aid.