Social media is fun when nonsensical issues are mocked and made fun of, but what is nonsensical to one person can be sensitive to the other.
This brings attention to the latest trend of social media platform where users are making fun of terminally ill people who are supposedly HIV Positive and have had their health deteriorated into the AIDS stage.
While a lot of people are cracking up about the heartbreaking pictures and videos of ailing people, some who are known and have actually died from the HIVirus, it is important to start asking critical questions like, when or at what stage is it crucial to be sensitive with what we post on social media?
The fight against HIV has been a losing battle for years until recently when countries have opted to enrolling patients on treatment immediately, and results and HIV statistics prove that there is a positive shift in saving lives.
With the positive strides reported, it would be wrong to ignore the big fact that most people still remain in the dark of their HIV status because of fear of stigma and discrimination, and the current trend is causing the biggest damage ever in the history of HIV related stigma and discrimination.
Those posts demonstrate the highest level of ignorance and stupidity at the height of the HIV fight. It is even more worrisome because the biggest pullers of the trend are men, the very same population which is reported to be dying at an alarming rate once they learn that they are HIV positive, solely because of their ignorance of taking a step forward to accessing health services.
Lesotho ranks number two in the world with HIV infections and this clearly says if one is not infected then they are affected, thus a little bit of compassion and sensitivity can go a long way.
According to the preliminary results from LePHIA 2020, there is substantial progress towards achieving control of the HIV epidemic in Lesotho.
• HIV Prevalence still stands at 23 percent (27 percent among females and 18 percent among males), which corresponds to approximately 324,000 adults living with HIV in the country.
• Diagnosed: Among adults who tested HIV-positive in LePHIA 2020, 90 percent reported they were already aware of their HIV status (91 percent of HIV-positive females and 87.7 percent of HIV-positive males).
• On Treatment: Among the adults who tested HIV-positive in the survey, 97 percent self-reported current use of antiretroviral treatment (97 percent of HIV-positive females and 96 percent of HIV-positive males).
• Virally Suppressed: Among HIV-positive adults who self-reported current use of antiretroviral treatment, 92 percent had viral load suppression (93 percent of HIV-positive females and 91 percent of HIV-positive males).
The progress is a significant milestone on the path towards the control of the HIV epidemic by 2030 because Lesotho has managed to surpass the UNAIDS set targets of 90% of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status (Diagnosed); 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy (OnTreatment); and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral treatment having their viral load suppression (Virally Supressed) by 2020.
The loud mouths of Facebook and Twitter who are popularising social media stigma and discrimination are clueless of the fact that an HIV positive person who is on treatment and have their viral load suppressed can have a healthy relationship with an HIV negative person and both remain free and safe, they can even have healthy HIV negative children.
It is time we stop the need to being socially-relevant at the expense of people’s wellbeing.
Being social is good, being social and sensitive is even more wonderful.