The Network of Zambian People living with HIV (NZP+) has bemoaned the high levels of stigma and discrimination against learners living with HIV and on Antiretroviral Viral Therapy in schools.
Speaking during the Katete District Development Coordinating Committee (DDCC) NZP+ Coordinator Kelvin Bulaya said there was a lot of stigma and discrimination in schools against HIV positive learners.
Mr Bulaya cited a case where a pupil from Katiula area of the district stopped going to school because of the stigma and discrimination he received from other pupils.
“The young boy was discovered by his friends that he was taking ARVs and so he stopped going to school because his friends where laughing at him. However the boy was later helped and counseled and had resumed school,” he said.
Mr Bulaya emphasized on the need to sensitize school going children on the need not to stigmatize and discriminate against learners who are living with HIV.
He also indicated to the house that some adolescents living with HIV are failing to declare their statuses for fear of stigma from their sexual partners.
He said this was leading most of the adolescents to indulge in unprotected sex, even when they are aware about their status which posed a risk to themselves and to their partners.
Meanwhile, District Social Welfare Officer, Joyce Msoni called for collaborative efforts between her institution and the ZNP+ to ensure that adolescents found positive are linked to community agents under her institution that can offer help and counseling.
She said the community agents have been trained in case management and are aware of none disclosure of such matters and will be helpful at community level to offer the necessary counselling and help to the adolescents.