Tag Archives: HIV education

Domestic Action to Fight AIDS Among Women Lacking

March is Women’s History Month. On March 10th, according to AlterNet.org, America “celebrated” Women and Girls’ HIV Awareness Day. But apparently there wasn’t anything to celebrate, since our country has made relatively little progress in awareness or policy around the high HIV rate for women, particularly African-American women and girls. The article laments that our international AIDS relief plans address the gendered issues around HIV prevention and treatment, while our own domestic policy largely ignores the epidemic.

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UNICEF and ZAPHA+ work to reduce stigma in Zanzibar

Though HIV prevalence is not as high in Zanzibar as in other areas of Tanzania, stigma there is rampant. This UNICEF article, quoting the 2007-2008 Tanzania HIV and Malaria Indicator Survey, indicates that “51 per cent of women and 41 per cent of men would keep it a secret that a family member is infected with the HIV virus.”

During a group exercise in the Young Journalists workshop in Unguja, Zanzibar, the participants discuss different scenarios of HIV stigmatization.

During a group exercise in the Young Journalists workshop in Unguja, Zanzibar, the participants discuss different scenarios of HIV stigmatization.

UNICEF and ZAPHA+ (Zanzibar Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS) work to combat this stigma and encourage people to get tested. ZAPHA+ provides workshops and counseling for young people living with HIV to help reduce stigma in their communities and help them cope with emotional and health issues. Children living with HIV are empowered to tell their own stories and build strategies to change attitudes.

The model of storytelling was effective this week during a 7-day Young Journalists Workshop at the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) Children’s Panorama, where 24 children who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS had an opportunity to share their experiences and wrote a newsletter that was sent to other schoolchildren in Unguja and Pemba.

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Club Raises Awareness for Disaffected Children in Tanzania

This article, published in the Arizona Daily Wildcat (the newspaper for the University of Arizona), discusses an international service trip similar to AIDSTanzania at William and Mary. It’s called Support for International Change, and it sends groups of students to Tanzania to promote HIV testing and awareness in northern Tanzania.

As one group member described, the trips are like a study abroad experience, except you’re volunteering as a member of the community and getting involved with helping others, as opposed to just looking. That sums it up quite well. Keep up the good work, Support for International Change!

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Uganda to Revamp its HIV Prevention Message

“We shall use basic facts in the messages to communicate effectively because we have realized that the level of knowledge about basic facts on HIV information is quite limited,” said Saul Onyango, senior health educationist with the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC).

The UAC, after feeling that Uganda’s messages were less successful than hoped, will re-define high-risk sex from “sex with irregular partner” to “anyone whose HIV status is unknown.” An at-risk population now includes anyone engaged in risky sex. Generic warnings about risky sex will now be favored over targeted messages, such as those about inter-generational sex.

“We have to change the destiny of this country, even if it means putting back the drums of the 1980s that used to frighten people,” said UAC director-general, David Kihumuro Apuuli. The center of a 1980s radio campaign in Uganda featured an ominous drumbeat and “AIDS kills.” Some in Uganda would like to see fear-driven campaigns return, believing them to be successful. The other side of the debate worries that scare tactics do not lead to behavior change but encourage fatalism and discrimination.

Those in Uganda’s leadership also voice a worry rarely heard – that funding for HIV prevention programs largely comes from donors and is unsustainable.

A lot to think about. We recommend reading the full article here to gain the most insight.

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Independent Experts Conclude: Comprehensive Sex Ed Works

“At long last, evidence and common sense have returned to public-health policy,” said James Wagoner of Advocates for Youth. “The task force report endorses the comprehensive approach to prevention that includes condoms and birth control. We should be spending taxpayer dollars only on evidence-based programs.”

AIDSTanzania supports the findings of this study, and it’s good to see comprehensive sex education finally get the credit it deserves. Read the full article here.

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HIV Awareness Campaign Yields Results in Tanzanian Village

None of the 2,500 out of 15,000 villagers in Rusaba Village, Kasulu District, Kigoma Region, tested positive for HIV this year between July and September. Local health workers had never come upon such results. They attribute it to an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign conducted by Tanzania Red Cross and Action Aid International, low interaction between villagers and outsiders, and close-knit family structures.

Depending on the size and diversity of the population tested, HIV infection rates can appear distorted. AIDSTanzania, for example, has tested in rural villages during our trips to the Arusha area. In one village, of 100 people tested there were zero positive tests. At face value this is great news. However, a number of factors could be at play: HIV-positive people who know of their infection are usually not going to get tested again; those who suspect they have HIV are afraid to come forward and get tested; and with only 100 tests available, tests go to the aware individuals who show up early because they are already thinking about HIV prevention.

Because the testing in Rusaba Village was of 2,500 of 15,000 people over a period of a few months, we can be confident that it was a representative sample of villagers. These results, and the influential HIV awareness campaign, are something to keep in mind as we work to prevent HIV, encourage testing, and spread education.

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AIDS has Economic Impacts in Tanzania

“But global crisis aside, Tanzania is in a job crisis of its own characterised by the devastating HIV/Aids pandemic and low competitiveness and productivity, experts say,” Damas Kanyabwoya writes for AllAfrica.com.Read the full article here.

It is important for us to remember that HIV has human and social effects beyond the side effects of the disease itself. Jeffrey D. Sachs, author of The End of Poverty, writes that he was shocked during his first visit to Zambia, when many of his Zambian colleagues were incapacitated by AIDS. In his book, he relays how he had never imagined that an illness could be so economically devastating. Indeed, it seems unimaginable to those living in a country like the United States that a disease could have an impact big enough to cause a drain among the working population, even big enough to hurt the economy.

Tanzania faces a similar problem to the one Sachs recognizes in Zambia, and it is exacerbated by malaria, TB, and cholera. When a country is crippled by disease, there is a viscious cycle of disease and poverty – countries do not have the money to fight disease, and so their working populations and schoolchildren are distracted or killed by illness, and thus there isn’t the education or capital to generate money.

Adding economic impacts to the discussion of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment will help educators, researchers, and leaders fight the disease most effectively.

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Re-visiting an old article…

Visit this William and Mary News link to get a peek into W&M’s take on AIDSTanzania and a great video and slideshow of our group.

The article might be a year old, but it still proclaims AIDSTanzania’s mission, and hey – it’s time to reflect on the past, it’s Homecoming weekend!

Max Cameron and Lwanda Mgere during an HIV biology lesson

Max Cameron and Lwanda Mgere during an HIV biology lesson

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“Behavior Change and HIV Prevention: [Re]Considerations for the 21st Century”

The Global HIV Prevention Working Group published a report in August 2008 about the efficacy of behavior-base HIV prevention and the myths behind HIV prevention efforts in general.  They argue that better and wider application of behavior change strategies are the only way to reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

As our group has recently transitioned from “ABC” to “Behavior Change,” this report is really insightful on how AIDSTanzania can improve our strategies on the ground and campaign for better policies.  The report can be found here.

“The Global HIV Prevention Working Group is a panel of over 50 leading public health experts, clinicians, biomedical and behavioral researchers, advocates, and people affected by HIV/AIDS, convened by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The Working Group seeks to inform global policy-making, program planning, and donor decisions on HIV prevention, and to advocate for a comprehensive response to HIV/AIDS that integrates prevention, treatment, and care. More
information and Working Group publications are available here.”

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Metro TeenAIDS

Metro TeenAIDS LogoOne of our members heard of an organization in D.C. that did HIV/AIDS education, outreach, and testing for young people.  Since their work mirrors that of our own in Tanzania and we are looking for a domestic model, we thought we’d check them out.  This is their site – they do a lot of great work.  Even though our domestic trip this winter will probably be to Petersburg, VA, we can still learn a lot form Metro TeenAIDS.

http://www.metroteenaids.org/

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