SOUTH AFRICA: Monde Kenneth Hobongwana, "The information is there, treatment is there, but still people default"

Photo: Lee Middleton/IRIN
"I played risky"
KHAYELITSHA, 19 May 2011 (PlusNews) - In 2008, Monde Kenneth Hobongwana, 37, tested HIV-positive. A student of business management at the time, he had been tested before, and blames risky behaviour for his status. He says that having a support structure is key to accepting one's status, but acknowledges that among men, it is still a difficult subject to discuss openly.

"Between 2006 [his previous test] and 2008, I played risky. I had unprotected sex and another time the condom broke. There's an element of fear when you get the results obviously, but if you have a normal support structure, it becomes acceptable in a way.

“After two days I told my mother. She’s a nurse, so she's knowledgeable about the issues and encouraged me to seek help. With my friends, I did pass [on] the message that I was HIV-positive. For them it's difficult to talk about these issues. Men are not so forthcoming when it comes to being open about personal issues.

“I encouraged them to come and test. Some disclosed to me after a while that they were also HIV-positive. But they have not been above board - they spend their time drinking over the weekends or sleeping around. You can encourage only to a certain point, you can't just force them to come and seek help.

“Maybe they will realize in their own time they need help, but my fear is that for them it will be too late. Also, stigma is still around. HIV is unlike diabetes... it's very complicated to really talk openly with people the first time.

“Over the years as information comes through, though, people are much more accepting and aware of this type of disease, that there are prevention and treatment measures like any other disease. So gradually people are becoming more forthcoming.

“I think the mindset we're still battling with is around adherence. You find people have information, they do receive treatment, but they're not adhering. A little bit of stigma is there, but I think the most important thing is the support: the psycho-social support has not been very strong in our community clinics whereby a counsellor will counsel you so you can really accept this condition. You find that counsellors are not always properly trained.

“In my thinking, when you get results that you're HIV-positive, emotionally that thing hits you here [in the stomach]: you get fear. After listening to the fear, then it hits you in the head - and that's where the denial comes now.

“So I think the issue of HIV has to be treated holistically, knowing all those factors. In my belief you can accept your status, but if you don't understand HIV per se, you won't really accept... Because the information is there, treatment is there, but still people default [on treatment]."


Theme(s): Care/Treatment - PlusNews, Gender Issues, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), PWAs/ASOs - PlusNews,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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