Former Minister of Health in Botswana and current UNAIDS regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Prof Sheila Tlou.
AIDS coordinators met on the 28 March at Cathedral Place. Sr Claudia Hausmann from the AIDS office opened the proceedings with a song and prayer. She then read a passage from Ezekiel 37:21-28 where God is talking to the Israelites. She asked coordinators to personalise the message to show that God is talking to us as well. She further encouraged them to believe that there is always hope.
In her report, Ndivile Mokoena, also from the AIDS office, said with the funding the government gave to the Catholic Health Care Association, they as HIV Counselling and Testing, trained peer counselling volunteers, tested over 6000 people, distributed pamphlets and conducted screenings for TB and sugar diabetes. She requested coordinators to inform them of the challenges they encounter and to invite them to their parishes to spread awareness should they feel a need.
Former Minister of Health in Botswana and current UNAIDS regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Prof Sheila Tlou, was the guest speaker. In her address, she said there has been a significant decline in new adult and child HIV infections, however, there’s still unacceptable high, new infections amongst adolescent girls and young women. A staunch Catholic, and a proud member of the St Anne’s sodality, she said the church has played a critical role in the AIDS response and at UNAIDS, they see the church as allies in their quest of zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.
Health professional and writer, Burgie Ireland, said teenage girls are ignorant when it comes to sexual matters and thus corroborated Prof Tlou’s assertion that they are the most vulnerable. She said parents should be approachable and not condemn their children. In that way, their children will always feel free to talk to them instead of their peers who are most likely to misinform them.
Lena Klaaste from St Martin de Porres, Toekomsrus said it is important that fellow coordinators attend meetings as they were informative and made them better health coordinators because everything they learn they implemented in their communities.