Zambia: How Netizens Observed World AIDS Day

Zambian netizens on various social media sites observed the World Aids Day, which falls on December 1, with a call for people to know their HIV status. Zambians, who say “if you are not infected, you are affected” know better about the effects of HIV/AIDS which has for the last 30 years claimed many lives in the country.

Writing on a Facebook group called the Zambia People’s Parliament—a make-believe online parliament on which all parliament etiquette is followed–Hon Gongs Jhala wrote:

Mr. Speaker sir, I know my HIV status and would like to know how many MP's in this August house know theirs. Mr. Speaker sir knowing one's status is one of the most powerful weapons we can use To fight this deadly disease and save lives of millions. If one is negative, then it is incumbent on them to take the necessary precautions to stay that way such as ABC. If one is positive, it is incumbent on them to seek the necessary treatment and take the necessary precautions to avoid reinfecting themselves and infecting others. Mr speaker on this 1st day of December, I beg to move.

one of the responses to the post which attracted over 100 comments read:

Mr. Speaket Sir, I stand in agreement with Hon Gongs Jhala‘s statement. Every member of this house should take it upon themselves to to be in the lead in this fight against HIV. Mr. Speaker Sir, people out there have a very bad perception of us honourable members of this house because of the infidelity exhibited by some of us. Mr. Speaker Sir, I call upon all of us to get tested, know our status and be faithful to our wives and husbands. For those who cant do this, let them reduce on the number of girlfrends/sexual partners. Let us Think and Act and let our tok not js be mere rhetoric. Mr. Speaker Sir, I beg to move

Joseph Mututa, however, wondered why some people on Facebook wished their friends a happy Aids Day:

Most people have posted on their walls, wishing us a happy world aids day. How do you wish people a happy aids day. Help me people are these people right or wrong.

One blogger posted a link of her blog on to the Zambian Peoples Pact where she talks to three Zambian female musicians about their views on the HIV/AIDS pandemic:

These women brought excitement to the music industry, they were fearless, they exiled in an industry that was dominated by men.
But what exactly are their views on HIV/AIDS and what are they doing as role models in helping combat the scourge?? Let’s find out.

On Twitter, Zambian tweeps also shared their views:

@TwentyKwacha One of my BBM contacts just announced that she will not have intercourse in 2012. That's her world AIDS day promise…

Another tweep wondered why the Zambian President, Michael Sata, made a short address to the nation on corruption instead of HIV/AIDS:

@Nj0lima Wonder why Sata decided to “ambush” the nation with a ka short national address about corruption on World Aids Day. Anyone?

Njolima explains a bit more about the President's speech:

@Nj0lima @TwentyKwacha Very short empty-ish speech about launch of corruption week. On World Aids Day. Puzzling. #Sata

One tweep listed the drivers of HIV in Zambia:

@lwangamwilu In #Zambia multiple and concurrent sexual partners, low rate of consistent condom use, and poverty are major drivers of HIV #WAD11

She also asked about the strategies for helping prisoners tackle HIV:

@lwangamwilu Zero new HIV infections- what's the plan for prisoners? Do they remain excluded from the continuum of strategies? #WAD11

And writing on the Zambian Watchdog website, Given Mutinta highlights sexual behaviour at Zambian universities in which senior students “rush” for new female students entering university from secondary schools and how this fuels HIV/AIDS among them:

Students in Zambian universities fall within the age group that is at high risk of HIV infection. There are many behaviours and practices that expose students to HIV/AIDS. Of particular interest is what is termed as a ‘gold rush’. This is a phenomenon where senior students ‘rush’ into relationships with first year students. Senior students either abandon their partners for the ‘gold’ new students or date both concurrently. The ‘rush’ into sexual relationships puts students at risk as both partners know very little about each other’s past lives.

Fanning the embers of the ‘gold rush’ is the fact that many of the new students come from single-sex schools and when they join the universities, they are overwhelmed by male and female students. In their naivety, they get into relationships and before they know it, they are already engaging in sex. It is also evident that upon joining universities, students find more freedom and space than they had before.

One comment on the article by someone calling herself Melvis, reads:

I’m a 3rd yr student at UNZA and ve bn living with HIV 4 the past 3 yrs. I got infected in my first semester as a fresher. If i knew what i know about the risk of hiv at UNZA, i would ve taken my time before engaging in sex. I was deceived that I was the only one when we were three of us being fooled by one guy who is now late. ZWD, thank u this artilce!

* Thumbnail image: The Red ribbon is a symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS. Image released under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) by Gary van der Merwe.

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