Elsdon, a well-known TV personality, best known for hosting the first season of the popular TV reality show, Big Brother South Africa, made a passionate plea to the youth to undergo an HIV test before they commence any sort of sexual activity.
“Our young people can no longer presume that their first sexual partner will bring them no harm. Today, your first encounter must be pre-empted with ‘Let’s have an HIV test. This is the legacy we have left, but young people, it need not be your legacy. You can change it!’ Elsdon said.
Addressing the campaign which was held under the theme, ‘Unite to fight TB and HIV,’ the former M-Net continuity announcer had her audience spellbound as she related how she had recovered after initially being diagnosed with Tuberculosis (TB) at the height of her career. She told the audience that overcoming the HIV pandemic and all diseases linked with it, such as TB, and the stigma attached to it, is one of the most serious challenges of our time. “It requires courage, commitment and leadership at all levels, and now, more than ever, it will require activism and creativity that your age and access to information bring to the table.
“Academic leaders and institutions like the Poly bring with them a special kind of trust and respect among the youth of your country that can help alter the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. But it means that you need to stand up and be counted. It means making the right decisions for your life, your partner’s life and for some of you, a decision to work toward a common good for the people of Namibia, both young and old,” she said.
The Rector of the Poly, Prof Tjama Tjivikua, echoed Elsdon’s sentiments and said: “Young people, your life is in your own hands. Be proactive, get tested and treated in time and enjoy your life fully and fulfil the dreams and goals you have set for yourselves.”
He emphasised that the theme of the campaign highlighted the causal link between HIV/AIDS and TB which has been clearly evidenced by scientific studies.
“Our nation faces an unrelenting attack from various diseases. We are engaged in this campaign because like in all other years, we strive to educate not only our campus community, but as a university, we have the obligation to educate the entire nation through various platforms like this one annually, and through research and media events. We need to remain hopeful that things will change for the better if we put all our efforts together - socially, culturally, economically and scientifically,” Tjivikua said.