The Philosophy of Positive Living: TASO invitation to each of us to defeat HIV

The Philosophy of Positive Living

The philosophy of positive living is one of the most important innovations by TASO that has been adopted by many partners in the response to HIV in Uganda and other parts of the world. The philosophy of positive living is a TASO invitation to each of us to play our roles in defeating HIV.

Positive living in TASO is about understanding the implications of HIV infection and undertaking positive choices to prevent HIV infection and adopt strategies to improve one’s health condition as mechanisms to fight the HIV epidemic. It is a cross cutting practice essential for everyone; for people living with HIV and those who are HIV negative; for families, communities as well as institutions.

For people living with HIV, the package of positive living entails having the will to live, and embracing practices that enhance the quality and longevity of life and maintaining hope. In practice this means among other things, accepting diagnosis and adjusting to it accordingly by seeking routine/ongoing counseling, prompt medical care including Antiretroviral Therapy, ensuring good nutrition, having adequate physical exercises and rest, avoiding compromising practices such alcoholism and smoking, continuing to engage in productive work/employment and disclosure to significant others.

Positive living is also about adopting practices that safeguard self and others against HIV infection like using condom and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT). The reality is that for every new HIV infection, there must be an HIV+ person and when HIV+ persons, with support from all stakeholders, embrace these strategies, then we would be working towards closing the "tap” of HIV transmission.

Positive living for people who are HIV negative is about making and practicing choices that will keep one HIV free. The entry point to positive living and HIV/AIDS care and support is through taking an HIV test to know ones sero status. When you know your HIV status, following a judicial process of routine HIV counseling and testing, you are empowered to lead a responsible life that reduces risks and prevents any new transmission of HIV. A responsible life involves among other aspects, avoiding practices that compromise ones sense of judgment of potential risks such as alcoholism and drug abuse; practicing safer sex; avoiding multiple sexual partners and other harmful cultural practices; adopting tested technologies such as Safe Medical Circumcision, Pre and Post Exposure Prophylaxis.

The philosophy of positive living transcends the life of an individual as it also takes account of practices, norms and conditions prevailing in our families, communities and institutions. In this aspect, positive living means creating systems and structures that take care and support people living with HIV to lead meaningful, productive and happier lives while at the same time supporting people not infected with HIV to remain HIV free. Such conditions will only come about when all stakeholders; the Government (both central and local), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Religious and Cultural Institutions, Family Associations, Community Groupings, People Living with HIV, the Private Sector, the Academia  and Development Partners, actively take up their roles in fighting the HIV epidemic.