Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Egu: “If you have not done the HIV test, you are as positive as Iam"

You could have heard a pin drop at the crowded Sir Peter Barter Auditorium when Mr. Joe Egu talked about his life experiences to the Health Management students.
Joe is a Person Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and he related some stories about his life as a Person Living With HIV/AIDS to the Health Management Students and staff earlier this month.
His talk on HIV/AIDS is one part of the Health Managements Department multi-approach towards encouraging and motivating its students outside of their ‘normal’ academic studies to be better people.
In absolute silence, the Health Manage­ment students and staff listened as Joe recounted with passion and emotion his experiences and for many, it was their first time, they had heard from a PLWHA talk about HIV/AIDS.

Health Management students listen to Mr. Egu's talk. The meeting took place in the Sir Peter Barter Auditorium (SPBA)

He said that he had accepted his HIV status long ago and even though he faced discrimination in many situations, he used this as a stepping stone to share and talk about HIV/AIDS throughout the country. In 2008, he launched an organization called the ‘People Living with Higher Aims’ as a means to sup­port PLWHAs live positively in their communities. This organization also focused on providing home based care to PLWHAs and those terminally ill. He also showed examples of how posi­tive living with the help of Antiretro­viral medication could help a PLWHA live longer and support their families better.
He pointed out that he, himself, is an example of what positive living can do for PLWHAs. He said that with the help of Antiretroviral therapy, his im­munity was strengthened and he was able to have a child with his wife - who are both currently HIV negative.
Joe urged everyone in the SPBA room to go for Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) to know their status.
He said: “If you have not done the HIV test, you are as HIV positive as Iam!
“The knowledge you learn through VCT gives you the power to change your life, your attitude and your sexual behavior.”
He reiterated that the current Health Man­agement students would one day be at the forefront of managing HIV/AIDS programs in the country especially in terms of manag­ing programs related to HIV/AIDS Preven­tion and Care & Counseling.

Picture above shows Mr Egu (standing) giving a powerpoint presentation of the work of People Living With Higher Aims in Madang. Picture below shows Mr.Egu (left) standing with one of the HM Tutors, Mr. Gigil Marme (right)

“You all HM students have a mammoth task ahead of you.
“Why I say a mammoth task is because you, as future health managers, will have to ensure that threefold objectives of the Vision 2050 concerning HIV/AIDS - Zero New Infection, Zero HIV related Deaths, Zero Stigma and Discrimina­tion – though difficult to achieve, would still fall in your hands as you would be managing public health institutions, and public health services in the country in the next two decades,” he said.
The Head Of Department for Health Management, Ms. Margareth Samei, thanked Mr. Joe Egu for his talk to the students and staff and pointed out that his experiences as a PLWHA highlight­ed the many issues facing PLWHAs in this country.

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