BREAK THE SILENCE ON HIV/AIDS IN YOUR COMMUNITY

The 2014 International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) put the eradication of stigma and discrimination on its agenda, with its slogan “no one left behind” ensuring that non-discrimination is adhered to in the HIV response. The use of specific HIV, AIDS and sexual reproduction education programmes that emphasize the rights of people living with HIV is a well-documented way of eradicating stigma. As well as being made aware of their rights, people living with HIV can be empowered in order to take action if these rights are violated. Ultimately, adopting a human rights approach to HIV and AIDS is in the public’s interest. Stigma blocks access to HIV testing and treatment services, making on wards transmission more likely. The removal of barriers to these services is key to ending the global HIV epidemic. There are lots of documented studies on how stigma affects people living with HIV. HIV-related stigma and discrimination exist worldwide, although they manifest themselves differently across countries, communities, religious groups and individuals. Research by the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) found the possible consequences of HIV-related stigma to be: loss of income and livelihood loss of marriage and childbearing options poor care within the health sector, withdrawal of care-giving in the home, loss of hope and feelings of worthlessness, loss of reputation. Self-stigma/internalized stigma has an equally damaging effect on the mental well-being of people living with HIV. This fear of discrimination breaks down confidence to seek help and medical care. Self-stigma and fear of a negative community reaction can hinder efforts to address the HIV epidemic by continuing the wall of silence and shame surrounding the virus. SAID through its many interventions in this area has experienced and seen the devastating and tragic consequences of stigma and discrimination in the fight to end HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is our experience that Health care settings in almost all our communities in Nigeria lack adequate training on effective care for those suffering from HIV. These health centers scare patients away instead of encouraging them to break the silence that is helping the spread of this deadly epidemic. It was this awareness that inspired our intervention to build the capacity of Health care workers in the the three LGAs in Imo State where this project is being conducted at the moment. It is hoped that this Training/Workshop on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV PMTCT for all the Health center staff in Obowo, will help to equip these Health givers on effective care and relationship with HIV victims devoid of stigmatization and discrimination. In this way, helping to reduce the rate of lose to follow up in pediatric HIV PMTCT. Jovita Keshi Community Engagement Coordinator SAID. Nigeria

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