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f) Effects in the general populace

HIV/AIDS has far more reaching, moral, social, cultural and economic implications. It generates orphans and child laborers; child headed households, widows and has dealt a blow to the trained manpower. As it stands now, it is the biggest threat to the economy and the way of life of the people. Below is a case study on what HIV/AIDS is doing to the cultural and traditions of some communities.

Case study: The setting is in Western Kenya, actors are members of the Luo community where, traditionally, wives used to be inherited by the next of the kin for social, economic, Psychological reasons and for assimilation into the family after the departure of the husband. In the era of AIDS, read what happens to the culture and its impact on the spread of HIV/AIDS in the attachments on I will not be inherited, says widow with AIDS and Project gives hope to the people with AIDS

B). MAIN INTERVENTIONS IN THE REGION

The three main areas of intervention are

Prevention of new infections.

In the fight against HIV/AIDS, men should play a central role in HIV/AIDS prevention because they are considered to be the dominant partners in sexual relationships. Because of their dependency on men in many ways, including economically, many women cannot negotiate for safe sex, thus the inability to effectively fight the scourge.

Communication for behavior change is a key intervention strategy in the region. Over 90% of the population in the region knows about HIV/AIDS but since knowledge does not equal behavior change, campaign to promote safer practices is emphasized. The most common approach is the ABCD of sex (most of the HIV in the region is still transmitted through heterosexual relationships), which emphasize on Abstinence, Be faithful to a faithful sex partner, Condom use or jump out of these options and Die with AIDS. The same is taught using the boat analogy. This witty analogy coined by a Catholic priest in Uganda goes like this HIV/AIDS is like crossing a swollen river invested with crocodiles. One has to choose one of the three boats or risk death, the first boat is abstinence, the second is being faithful and the third one is a condom. The choice is to move from one boat to another but never dropping in the crocodile invested waters.

Management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is a proven strategy in the reduction of the spread of HIV. Some studies have shown that effective treatment of STIs would reduce the rate of HIV transmission by at least 40%. The main limitation is lack of appropriate treatment of such conditions in the region where the health care services are growing from bad to worse. The traditional and cultural African setting was devoid of immorality and sex related talk was rare and relegated to adult and the aged. The case study gives a comical way in which sex talk is taken, even when it could mean life or death.

Case study: The actors in the case study are the Member of Parliament on one hand (concerned at the rate his slum constituency members are dying), his slum constituents and the international community. Read all in the attachment, A million condoms to keep voters alive we believe that for those suffering from the HIV/AIDS, this article wasnt comical at all.

Voluntary Counseling and Testing. In Uganda and Tanzania it has become common knowledge that when people are well counseled and get to know their HIV status, they tend to live more responsibly. For example those who are negative strive to guard their status while those who are positive neither spread nor add their viral load through re-infection. This strategy is however frustrated by lack of adequate qualified counselors as well as antiretroviral therapies for those who are positive. Testing facilities are also limited and inaccessible to many. Trained personnel to test and provide counseling are also a major constraint.

Preventing mother to child transmission (MTCT) Voluntary Counseling and Testing for mothers provides an opportunity to promote safer delivery methods for the positive ones, stop breastfeeding at the sixth week in order to reduce chances of passing on the virus to the infant, put the mother on antiretroviral etc. This strategy is however both costly and unpopular in a region bedeviled by poverty and social stigma against AIDS. In any given situation, there are always men and women who refuse to be cowed by adverse conditions. The case study below gives an indication of such groups and what they are doing.

Case study: As the HIV/AIDS pandemic continue causing havoc at all levels of the society, there are equally determined responses to slow its spread and undo some of the damage it has caused. In the attachment, changing the face of AIDS in Thika, Kenya, an account is given on what local groups and organizations are doing to reduce human suffering.

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Other Articles of Interest:

What Would Jesus Do About Aids?
by Jonathan Frerichs, LWR Communication Director

Standing With Africa
by LWR President, Kathryn Wolford


Stand With Africa: A Campaign of Hope?
Written by Cathie DeGonia, Stand With Africa Campaign Communication Coordinator

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Writen by Asenath Omwego, LWR Regional Representative East Africa