25/09/2012 17:57

HARARE — Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV rates in the world, despite years of effort to slow the spread of the virus.  The pandemic - and the government’s failure to rollout a life-prolonging anti-retroviral drug program - has left tens of thousands of AIDS orphans. Many of these young people are working to make a difference with their lives. These are some of the many young people living with the HIV virus. Most of them are orphans - their parents having succumbed to HIV-related illnesses. They meet every Saturday afternoon in central Harare to share experiences.  Among them is a 19-year-old man we shall call Jacob.  He says he contracted HIV from his parents who have since died.  He says he has been fighting the stigma that comes with the virus since he got tested nine years ago.   “Now stigma and discrimination I can count as nothing to me.  I first accepted my status.  It will never change.  Acceptance was the first medicine I took. I take medication as prescribed by doctors," stated Jacob. "Adherence is the most important thing for us people with HIV.” He says he gets support from fellow youths that he meets each week at the offices of PSI - one of many global health organizations involved in assisting Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government help the 1.2 million people here living with HIV and AIDS.   Jacob says being an HIV-positive orphan does not make him different from those who do not have the virus.For more info,Please visit orphans “Right now a bit better than those who do not know their statuses.  If you know who you are and where you are coming from you will have a brighter future,” he said. Across town from the PSI offices is “Zvandiri House“ - which houses Africa Aid, an organization that helps young people with HIV.  Zvandiri in the Shona language means “as I am.”   Volunteer AIDS peer counselor Loice Maturu, Harare, Zimbabwe, June, 2012. (S. Mhofu/VOA) Related Articles - Email this Article to a Friend! Receive Articles like this one direct to your email box!Subscribe for free today!If you are interested in learning more,click on the following