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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

 

Background Information

Southern Africa Network of AIDS Service Organisations (SANASO)

In November 2000, I was in a group of Community representatives who attended a Media Relations training Workshop organised by the African Council of AIDS Service Organisations (AfriCASO).  At this Workshop, Community groups in Africa expressed concern about HIV/AIDS related Stigma and discrimination which are still very much widespread and being encountered in many spheres of life throughout the continent. 

People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA) continue to experience Stigma and discrimination manifested in many ways including loss of employment, education, travel, insurance, health care and other social amenities.  Some have experienced ostracism, hostility and violence.  The burden of Stigma is so heavy that we believe that many PLWA prefer to take refuge in denial rather than face 'social death'. In an effort to eliminate HIV/AIDS related Stigma and discrimination, some Community groups are implementing and others plan to implement the following interventions:

 

1.           Information & Education

v      Provision of AIDS information and education for the general public to change the underlying negative perceptions which contribute to the vulnerability, stigmatisation and discrimination of People living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

v      Promoting the active involvement of PLWA in AIDS educational programmes in an effort to increase awareness in the general public.  By doing things and using their experiences, PLWA can challenge negative attitudes and encourage acceptance by communities.  Building the capacity of PLWA to cope with the emotional issues surrounding HIV/AIDS will enable them to effectively participate in such programmes. PLWA of high socio-economic standing in the communities are being encouraged to take up the challenge of being public advocates in the campaign against HIV/AIDS related Stigma.

2.           Advocacy

v      Intensifying advocacy efforts to promote and protect the human rights of PLWA. Community groups called upon African Governments to enact legislation and formulate policies which safeguard the human rights of PLWA and protect them against Stigma and discrimination. Such policies should be implemented at both social and Institutional levels. Community groups continue to play a 'watchdog' role over Institutions and the general public to monitor the implementation of such policies: to document cases of discrimination and violence against PLWA: and to assist sufferers of Stigma take legal action to protect their full human rights.

 

NGOs, CBOs and PLWA in Africa welcome efforts by researchers to address the problem of HIV/AIDS related Stigma and are very keen to be active participants in the research process.

Ms Farai Mugweni

SANASO Secretariat

P O Box 6690

Harare

Zimbabwe

Tel: 263 4 745748

Fax: 263 4 745749

e-mail: farai@africaonline.co.zw