HIV/AIDS no more a hush-hush Affair: Ali Abdo

Addis Ababa Dec. 2 (ENA) - The chief of the Addis Ababa City Administration, Ato Ali Abdo, noted here yesterday that HIV/AIDS no longer remains a hush-hush affair in the capital and throughout Ethiopia.

Addressing thousands of youngsters and school children who turned out at Meskel square here to observe World AIDS Day '99, Ato Ali said that breaking the silence on the pandemic is becoming the order of the day. The number of HIV/AIDS cases in the county, first reported in 1978 E.C., as two has now, reached million, he said, adding that the re population should be kept alarmed of it.

'We are doing our level best to, at least, contain the spread of HIV/AIDS here within the city administration. Apart from implementing country's National HIV/AIDS policy, we are currently engaged  actively  in raising the awareness of  city dewellers about the issue.

"In 1992 E.C. a number of anti HIV/AIDS campaigns are being launched. We have established anti-HIV /AIDS councils and are trying to put in place down to the zonal, woreda and kebele levels. A draft bill on establishing an HIV/AIDS prevention and control office is also in the pipeline, while symposiums, seminars, exhibitions and candle nights dedicated to it are being organized with the aim of boosting the awareness of the people. The only gap to be filled is coordination of all concerned bodies and genuine commitment of the public at large in the effort to check the pandemic," Ato Ali stated.

According to him people shouldn't discriminate against those living with the virus, including those at playing a pivotal role in the fight against the disease.

Religious leaders on their part said that the most effective remedy against HIV/AIDS has to be sought from God/Allah through deep repentance and prayer. "If we set our heart and mind to God and Allah and abide by divine law, we can surely efface the deadly disease from the face of the county," they said.

Participants approached by this reporter also underlined the need for sex education in schools and said lessons should be given at every level and in every household so as to bring about behavioral and attitudinal changes in the society.

The year's World AIDS Day is being observed under the theme "Let's Talk and Learn About HIV/AIDS with Children and the Youth Openly."

It is to be recalled that the first international conference on AIDS under the theme "Fighting for life", was staged at the UN conference centre recently.

This day is viewed as one on which Ethiopians of all walks of life pledge to fight HIV/AIDS.

WHO, CRDA, Propride-Self help NGO, Save the Children-USA, and Save Your Generation have sponsored the event at which various musical and theatrical shows related to HIV/AIDS were presented in the presence of representatives of various organizations, religious leaders and city dwellers.

Meanwhile, Dawn of Hope Ethiopia Association (DH-EA) members have vowed to fight against HIV/AIDS renewing the slogan "It shall be enough with us, let the generation be saved."

At a press conference held at the main office of  the Association to Commemorate the Day yesterday, Association President Ato Zewdu Getachew said that he himself and members would continue their struggle to eradicate the pandemic from the face of Ethiopia if not from the earth. Zewdu stressed: "We are part of the solution finders and we shall burn like candle to teach the society and save the generation."

DH-EA is a make up of people living with HIV/AIDS and orphans who lost their parents due to the pandemic. The main objective of the association is to go into the society personally at any time and place and teach it candidly in order to enable prevent itself from being infected by the virus and also to take care of people living with AIDS and patients as well as the orphans.

Dawn of Hope Ethiopia (DH-EA) is an indigenous NGO established in June 1998. All the founding members are people living with HIV/AIDS. Presently, it has more than 300 members including orphans. It has 15 branches in Ethiopia, it was learnt.