About this Event
World AIDS day is commemorated every December 1st. This year, Educate a Child in Africa (ECA) partnered with the Organization For Gender, Civic Engagement and Youth Development (OGCEYOD) Cameroon to commemorate the day under the theme “Getting to Zero”. Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths. The ECA and OGCEYOD team visited two institutions in Limbe Cameroon, Kulu Memorial Comprehensive High School and Kofele Luma Secondary School. The message to the students of these two institutions was in line with the World Health Organization’s focus for the 2013 campaign which is improving access to prevention.
How It Unfolded
The authorities of the different institutions were informed about the sensitization campaign prior to the 1st of December by the delegates of ECA and OGCEYOD. The reason for the campaign and this year’s theme was articulated to the authorities and they responded favorably with great delight for the sensitization to be carried out in their institutions.
On the 1st of December at 10:30am local time, the ECA and OGCEYOD team arrived at Kulu Memorial Comprehensive High School premise for the first awareness campaign. The Chief Operating Officer of ECA, Gideon Asaah set the ball rolling by presenting this year’s theme. About 150 students present at the school hall listened with enthusiasm on the breakdown of the theme. The ECA representative talked about the importance of abstinence in the prevention of HIV infection. He further called on the students to redress any discriminatory practices against HIV/AIDS patients in their different communities. The students were also made to understand that checking their HIV status is the first step towards combating the disease and that HIV positive people can live a healthy normal life if the infected persons take the anti retroviral drugs that are prescribed by health centers and hospitals.
Other speakers of the day included Dinga Emmanuel, Sakwe Alexis, Rosa Hopkins and Maike Mollendorf. They all took tends to present the different modes of transmission, preventive measures and the socio-economic impact of the HIV/AIDS disease to a household, a community and a nation. After the presentation by the different speakers, a question and answer session followed. Interestingly most of the questions were related to mother-to-child transmission. Answers to the questions were presented to the satisfaction of the students. At exactly 12 noon local time, the students dispersed to their homes.
At the Kofele Luma Secondary School, the event was same. The sensitization campaign began at 1:30pm local time. Even though the turnout was relatively small, the excitement was impressive. The one hour thirty minutes campaign ended with a question and answer session and a group photo.
Despite the fact that most of the students were aware of the pandemic, the rate of stigmatization still remains very high. Most of the students openly expressed how they felt about this dilemma. They could not envisage themselves living with HIV positive people.
Stigmatization against HIV/AIDS remains a major issue in Cameroon and across Africa. A majority of the population believes that the society will reject them if they take the HIV/AIDS test and find out that they are HIV positive. Any policy aimed at rolling back the pandemic should therefore include education countering such discriminatory biases.