The provincial Department of Health ran health screenings and an education drive at Dunoon Recreational Hub last week, ahead of World Aids Day.
“Historically, HIV has a lot of stigma around it, and we are here to educate people and let them know that it is not a death sentence. We are here to also commemorate those who have lost their lives due to the disease,” said Dr Ebrahim Kriel, a HIV/Aids, Sexually transmitted infections and TB (HAST) medical officer.
Promotion of male medical circumcision, was among the health services they provided, he said.
“Male medical circumcision has been proven to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV among negative men and lowers the risk by 60%,” he said.
Dr Kathryn Grammer, director of the southern/western substructure of the health department, noted that World Aids Day on December 1 overlapped with the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.
“Not protecting our women and children from acquiring HIV and the risks leading to acquiring HIV, or denying them treatment can be seen as forms of abuse and we need to prevent that. We came to Dunoon because this is an incredible community and we have a lot of partners like the NPOs that operate here. We want people to know that there are options for people to look after themselves and that there are many ways to stay HIV free,” she said.
Anna van Stander, a 63-year-old Dunoon resident, said she was glad the department had brought the services to the community as she usually had to wait in long queues at the clinic to get her check-ups done.
“I hope the youth can see what is happening here and get encouraged to check their health. In fact, it’s important for the whole community to be here and I hope more events like this could be held,” she said.