National News

Defense Minister urges soldiers to test for HIV

By Nichola Dominic Mandil
The Minister of Defense and Veterans’ Affairs, Kual Manyank Juk, has urged members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) to test for HIV in order to know their status whether they are “positive” or “negative”.
The Minister was addressing the soldiers yesterday at the army general headquarters at Bipham during the announcement of verdicts by the SPLA General Court-Martial.
He seized the opportunity as he received visitors from the United Nations AIDS Organisation, World Health Organisation (WHO), the South Sudan AIDS Commission and an officer in charge of AIDS department at the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), who was also visiting South Sudan.
“Our number one enemy is disease, especially HIV and AIDS is our number one enemy in the world and in South Sudan. Malaria and TB are also other enemies of ours that is why our population is less than China, which is the most populous country in the world,” Kual Manyank told the soldiers.
“Test for HIV in order to know your status, if you are negative well and good, keep yourself safe, don’t go after other women, be faithful to your wife if you are a married man—if you are a woman, also be faithful to your husband, don’t go out and get the virus, which will infect your family,” Minister Manyank cautioned the SPLA.
He said if one is tested positive, it is not the end of the world, and encouraged them to take medicine, which he said could keep an HIV patient alive for even twenty years, and hopefully after twenty years scientists will have found a cure for HIV and AIDS.
Minister Manyank said testing for HIV is a global policy, which he said the government of South Sudan has adopted. The testing is voluntary to enable people know their status and take precautionary measures.
“If you have the virus, don’t spread it to your wife or husband or to other women or to other men. Treat yourself and stay safe—don’t give HIV to others please if you have it, don’t give it even to your children,” Minister Manyank urged them as he interact with SPLA soldiers at Bilpham yesterday.
Mr. Manyank, who was accompanied by visitors from South Sudan AIDS Commission, WHO, UN AIDS organisation and a UPDF officer from Uganda, demonstrated practically the voluntary HIV testing exercise.
The testing kits were taken to the soldiers and Minister Kual Manyank was the first to demonstrate it by testing for his status. “Now I am testing for HIV, after twenty minutes my result will be out, if I am found positive, I would go to the doctors to take medicine in order to stay longer,” Kual Manyank said as he tested for his status.
As the deputy minister of defense and other SPLA officers also tested for their status, the result for Minister Kual Manyank was came out and he was tested HIV “negative” amidst warm applause from the soldiers and the visitors from the WHO, UN and the rest.
Some soldiers were courageous enough to raise their hands and identified themselves that they were HIV positive. At least three soldiers from amongst those who lined up for parade raised their hands up in reply to the question of the Minister who asked, “Who is HIV positive here amongst you”?
Minister Manyank thanked those who acknowledge that they were HIV positive and encouraged them to take medication so that they can stay strong and live longer.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), is a set of symptoms. Before the 1980s, researchers estimated that about 100,000 to 300,000 people were infected with HIV. The earliest case was confirmed in 1968, since then HIV and AIDS have killed millions of people around the globe, with majority being from Sub-Sharan Africa.

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