Govt urged to employ disabled people in state facilities

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pretoria - Government has been urged to employ people with disabilities at state facilities in order to reduce the stigma around disabled people who are HIV positive.

Speaking at the World AIDS Day commemoration in Pretoria, Helen Ndamase, 35, who is living with HIV, said many people assumed that people with disabilities were not affected by the virus.

"I'm also a human being and HIV and AIDS affects me as a disabled person. People assume that as we are disabled; we don't have a partner and therefore cannot get infected with the disease," Ndamase told BuaNews.

She said the stigma doubled when visiting the health facilities. The attitude of staff has led to many disabled people not wanting to get tested.

"You just get tested and the health worker writes your results on a piece of paper and gives it to you without any counselling or information on the disease."

Ndamase, who is blind and has been living with HIV since 1993, further urged government to include people living with disabilities in their programmes aimed at improvingl the lives of people living with HIV.

She also wanted government to keep them in mind with regards to skills training, especially in technology. It is due to a lack of skills in technology that Ndamase is struggling to get employment despite having a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration.

"When seeing a blind person, people think all you can do is read braille and that the only work you can do is operate a switchboard. We also need skills especially technology skills to empower ourselves as this disease affects us as well," she said.

South African National AIDS Council Chief Executive Officer Nono Simelela said the council had identified gaps in response to the needs of people living with disabilities and acknowledged the need to improve the gaps.

"We will address those gaps to include them in our programmes," she said.