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with Angeline Chiwetani
View audio file details: Interview with Angeline Chiwetani
Angeline Chiwetani, is an HIV/AIDS activist. She has been awarded the
Foundation Award. The award is in recognition for her key role in
reducing stigmatisation, discrimination and advocating for antiretroviral
She spoke to kubatana.net
before she left for Barcelona, Spain where she will be presented with
her award and prize money of US$10 000.
Please can you
say who you are and give some background information about how you grew
up and your family life?
is Angeline Chiwetani, right now I'm 32. I grew up in a family of 7 with
me being the first born, and we are 3 girls and 4 boys in the family.
My parents are all still alive and they are HIV negative. This is one
thing I'm happy about. My brothers and my sisters are very supportive
and we are that kind of a family that is open talking about HIV/AIDS issues
at home, in the church and everywhere else. I have my 2 kids they are
all boys called Simbarashe and Keith. My husband is now late, he died
in 2000 and . . . he was handsome!
the work that you're doing in HIV/AIDS?
HIV/AIDS I'm working on women specific issues. Issues affecting women,
both the infected and the affected: there are some situations whereby
you find that most women are being deserted by their husbands if they
test positive or if they disclose their status. And one painful thing
that I would always encourage people NOT to do is to abandon other people
when they test positive because its active discrimination whereby you
need support. You need all the comfort when you test positive, because
they are so many issues that come about when one tests positive. In particular
you need people around you. And it's one of those things that most of
us are failing to do. People are stigmatized and discriminating against
people with HIV of which many of these people are not aware of their own
What does winning
the Letten Foundation Award mean to you?
one it's very difficult to answer but what I can say is it's the recognition
of the efforts that I have made in trying to reduce stigma because I have
met so many people from different backgrounds trying to outline issues
affecting us people living with HIV/AIDS. And how best other people can
survive with HIV no matter you are coming from the rural background or
urban setting. But HIV is cutting across everyone no matter you are rich
or you are poor. It's one of those things that we have to think deeply
about and create dialogue amongst ourselves because there is nobody who
can talk about it if we do not talk about it.
How do you feel
the current political and economic crisis is affecting the delivery of
HIV/AIDS services and interventions?
cases it reminds me of certain incidences when I was trying to help other
people in rural areas. I think maybe it was wrong timing when the political
situation was not conducive that we can go and hold some workshops or
meetings with different people from different settings. I was told twice
not to hold such workshops but later the people in that same area noted
that they were in a crisis so they needed my assistance. Because I know
how it is when somebody needs help, I just thought it was wise for me
to go back again and assist people. I would urge people not to politicize
things because HIV is quite an issue that needs immediate attention. Lets
involve people living with HIV in all decision-making levels because they
are in it. We cannot decide for them. We as people living with HIV/AIDS
our motto is "There is nothing for us, without us."
So I feel that most
people are being affected mainly because of the economic crisis. Most
of us cannot afford to buy medicines; most people cannot afford to buy
the basic commodities a person would want to survive. But I think if people
living with HIV/AIDS are being empowered economically then I think we
can make a way forward.
How did you feel
when the Global Fund rejected Zimbabwe's application for funding. Was
this a blow to your future plans?
Yes it is
a blow. A big blow because we where looking at the government. They had
indicated that they would start the rollout to access to treatment so
it then disturbed the whole thing. Now the government would say, as much
as we would want to roll out the treatment, how best are we going to do
it because we only have limited resources. And to make matters worse,
we also subscribe to this Global Fund and now we are in a dilemma because
how best are we going to help people living with HIV/AIDS especially those
that now want to go on ARV drugs.
In your opinion
what do you feel needs to change in order to ease the HIV/AIDS crisis?
the approach on tackling issues to do with HIV/AIDS that the attitudes
of people need to change. We mainly need to look at behavior change. Most
people think that if they are rich, they have everything that they need
then HIV/AIDS can't come through them but that's not it. We have to change
our behavior. If you had multiple sexual partners: please reduce. Either
you stick to one person or none. I know none is a non-starter but at least
one has to think deep about it and try. Also people infected have to prevent
re-infection of other people.
What gives you
hope? How do you stay positive and focused when there is so much despair
in our country at this time?
because I have a positive mind. Everything that I do, I just do like anybody
else because you find that most people would say HIV positive people are
patients. We are not patients because I'm not sick, I only have HIV, I
don't have AIDS. So I urge so many other people out there especially those
who do not know their HIV status to treat yourself like somebody who is
HIV positive - then you are geared for living.
Do you feel that
when you disclose you reduce the burden?
I'm not stressed, and in most cases, I open doors for other people who
have concerns that they cannot talk to anyone about. But because I have
managed to disclose my status I have so many friends and fewer enemies.
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