Tag Archives: stigma

Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover visits HIV/AIDS programs in Tanzania

Danny Glover, UNICEF Ambassador and famous actor, traveled to Tanzania in July 2009 to support HIV testing efforts, counseling for PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child transmission) and the fight against stigma in the country. Mr. Glover’s brother is HIV positive, and Mr. Glover sees the need for youth support clinics, testing, and a reduction in stigma. He also supports PMTCT efforts and the ongoing support for pregnant women who are HIV positive, including the involvement of their husbands or boyfriends.

During his visit to Tanzania, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover talks with a mother who has brought a child to a clinic and is waiting to be attended by a nurse.

During his visit to Tanzania, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover talks with a mother who has brought a child to a clinic and is waiting to be attended by a nurse.

Mr. Glover met with youth from the Zanzibar Association of People Living with HIV and AIDS and talked with people from the Zanzibar Youth Education Development and Environment Support Association, who provide a range of support services. Mr. Glover said that HIV stigma is “one of the most damaging” factors at work in Tanzania. We feel that this is true across the world, and we couldn’t agree more.

Read the full article here.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

“Nothing is as stark, punitive and redolent of hate as the Bill in Uganda,” Stephen Lewis, former UN envoy on AIDS in Africa, addressing the Commonwealth People’s Forum.

The part that is perhaps most disturbing is Clause 2, which states that a person who is convicted of gay sex is liable to life imprisonment, but if that person is also HIV positive, the penalty is death. Whatever your thoughts on homosexuality are, this Bill attempts to deny HIV-positive people their right to live, and that is a blatant violation of basic human rights.

Read the Times Online article or the Bill itself. The Bill is going through Parliament currently, so if you have a petition that readers can sign to oppose the bill or any news about what has happened, please comment on this blog post.

Tagged , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Truckers Leave AIDS Viral Loads in Namanga Border Town

This article tells a story that is a common narrative in Tanzania about how HIV is spread. This time, the story takes place in Namanga, a border town between Tanzania and Kenya, and the theory is that HIV infections are rising in the town due to heavy trucker traffic and the nomadic lifestyle of the border communities.

Namanga, at the border of Kenya and Tanzania

Namanga, at the border of Kenya and Tanzania

While in Tanzania, our own group heard similar stories about how commuting brings HIV back into the rural villages – men would go into Arusha to work and to seek entertainment, sometimes contract the HIV virus through sexual partners in the city, and then unknowingly bring HIV back to their family and community. This is why some statistics suggest the HIV infection rate growing in rural areas even as it stabilizes or decreases in cities.

This is a similar problem to Namanga’s border town HIV problem. Residents and officials of this area blame in sufficient health and medical facilities both for failing to stop the spread of the virus. The article also suggests that though reported HIV rates are low, the problem is critical – implying not only insufficient medical care, but insufficient testing and potentially a heavy stigma regarding HIV.

Truckers Leave Aids Viral Loads in Namanga Border Town

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Reducation of stigma: Streamlining visas for HIV positive travelers

Just last week, the Department of Homeland Security issued new regulations that streamlines the process of issuing non-immigrant visas to people with HIV/AIDS who meet all other visa requirements.  The regulations change the old process of issuing visas to HIV patients on a case-by-case basis.

This also fulfills a part of the United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008, which President Bush signed earlier this year.  The Act calls for the removal of HIV from the list of diseases of public health significance that prohibited people from visiting the U.S.

Read more about the new process here.

This announcement is great news to those of us trying to reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS.  While acknowledging HIV/AIDS as a public health issue of importance, unnecessary procedures promote misperceptions of how the virus is spread, and make life that much harder for HIV/AIDS patients.  “Plus one” for the Department of Homeland Security.

-Rebecca

Tagged , , , , ,