What is in this guide
- Why should organisations address the issue of HIV and AIDS
- Important things to know about HIV and AIDS
- How to run an HIV and AIDS campaign
- Aims of the campaign
- Slogans and message
- Campaign methods
- Public education
- Awareness raising
- Promoting openness about AIDS and people living with AIDS
- Support and care for people living with AIDS
- Community care for orphans
- Motivating others to get involved
HIV and AIDS is one of the biggest challenges we face as a country. The rate of infection is rapidly increasing and more and more people are getting ill and dying from AIDS. Of all the people living with AIDS in the world, it is estimated that 6 out of every 10 men, 8 out of every 10 women and 9 out of every 10 children live in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa has one of the fastest growing rates of infection in the world.
Individuals, families and communities are badly affected by the epidemic. The burden of care falls on the families and children of those who are ill. Often they have already lost a breadwinner and the meagre resources they have left are not enough to provide care for the ill person and food for the family.
Children who are orphaned are often deprived not only of parental care, but also of financial support. Many of them leave school and have no hope of ever getting a decent education or job. These children who grow up without any support or guidance from adults may become our biggest problem in the future.
Most of the people who are dying are between the ages of 20 and 45 - an age when most people are workers and parents. This has serious consequences for our economy and the development of the country.
Our welfare system may not be able to cope with the number of orphans who need grants. Our health system is already strained to provide basic health care for all diseases and in parts of KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng almost half of hospital beds are taken by people who are ill from AIDS.
AIDS can affect anyone. But it is clear that it is spreading faster to people who live in poverty and lack access to education, basic health services, nutrition and clean water. Young people and women are the most vulnerable. Women are often powerless to insist on safe sex and easily become infected by HIV positive partners. When people have other diseases like sexually transmitted diseases, TB or malaria they are also more likely to contract and die from AIDS.
Although AIDS has become very common it is still surrounded by silence. People are ashamed to speak about being infected and many see it as a scandal when it happens in their families. People living with AIDS are exposed to daily prejudice born out of ignorance and fear.
We cannot tackle this epidemic unless we can break the silence and remove the stigma [shame] that surrounds it. As leaders in our communities we have to provide leadership on how to deal with AIDS.
The fight against AIDS has to happen on two main fronts - prevention and care. To prevent the spread of AIDS we have to educate people on how to prevent infection. We also have to change the social attitudes that make women vulnerable because they cannot refuse unsafe sex from a partner and the attitudes among men that lead to woman abuse and rape. Poverty alleviation and development are also important programmes that will limit the spread of AIDS.
To deal with the results of the disease and the social problems it creates, we have to make sure that people living with AIDS get care and support to help them live longer and healthier lives. We also have to make sure that those who are dying are properly looked after. For the children who are left orphaned we have to find ways of looking after them so that they do not become hopeless and turn to crime or live on the streets because of poverty.
AIDS can reverse the gains we have made in our struggle to build a better life for our people. Government cannot fight this battle alone. Government can provide health and welfare services, development programmes and information. Organisations on the ground have to provide the type of leadership and direction that will lead to real change in people's attitudes and behaviour.
It is also the responsibility of every individual to support the fight against AIDS. The rest of this guide gives details of what we can do.
AIDS affects millions of South Africans. It is estimated that more than 4 million South Africans are HIV positive and about 1 000 people die every day. Infection rates differ from region to region and in rural KwaZulu-Natal it may be over 25% in some areas - one in every four adults.
What is AIDS and HIV
AIDS means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a disease that destroys your ability to fight other infections through your immune system. You get AIDS from a virus called HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
People who get HIV can stay healthy for many years and most infected people do not even know that they are HIV positive. There are no visible signs to show that a person is infected. They can pass the disease on to other people by having unprotected sex with them.
The second phase of the disease is when you get AIDS and start becoming ill more easily. AIDS itself does not kill people - they usually die from other infections like flu, diarrhoea, pneumonia or TB. Poor people who are not well nourished and live in bad conditions, tend to become ill and die much sooner than others.
Some of the symptoms of a person living with AIDS could be losing weight very quickly and getting ill often with things like flu or pneumonia or stomach problems.
How do you get AIDS
There are only three ways to get AIDS: unprotected sex, contact with infected blood or body fluids and mother to baby transmission.
- Unprotected sex:
This is the most common way that people get AIDS. If you have sex with an HIV positive person and there is direct contact between the penis and vagina or anus, you can easily get infected. The virus lives in the fluids inside the penis and vagina and can easily enter your bloodstream. Using condoms properly is the only protection against this kind of infection.
- Contact with infected blood.
If you have an open wound and it comes into contact with the blood of an HIV positive person, you can get infected. This contact could be through using the same needles for drugs or unsafe instruments used for circumcision. You can also get it from blood transfusions if the blood is contaminated [in SA all blood is screened]. Medical workers can get it from accidentally pricking themselves with needles they have used to inject HIV positive people.
- Mother to baby transmission.
HIV positive mothers can pass the infection to their babies, although this does not happen in all cases. Transmission can happen during pregnancy, or childbirth because of the contact with blood, or during breast feeding.
You cannot get AIDS from kissing someone on the lips, hugging, sharing food and drink or using the same bath or toilet as someone who is HIV positive. [Deep kissing or French kissing can pass on HIV if you have sores in your mouth]
Anyone can get AIDS, but some people are more vulnerable because they do not have the power to say no to unprotected sex or because of their risky lifestyles. The groups who are most vulnerable and have the highest infection rates are:
- Young women between 15 - 30 years old
- Sexually active men who have more than one partner, with young men more common
- Migrant and mine workers
- Transport workers
- Sex workers
- Drug users who use needles
- People who practice anal sex
Young women are most vulnerable because they often powerless to say no to unprotected sex with an HIV positive partner. They are also the most common victims of rape and sexual abuse. Young girls who are virgins are also at risk because of the myth that a person can be cured of AIDS by having sex with a virgin. This is total rubbish and is just an excuse for child abuse.
The other groups are vulnerable because many of them have a number of different sexual partners and they do not always practice safe sex. Drug users may share needles without sterilising them first. Anal sex is more dangerous because the anus has no natural lubrication and this often results in injuries during sex. Condoms are also not designed to be strong enough for anal sex.
The biggest problem in fighting AIDS is breaking the silence that surrounds the epidemic. Although thousands of people are ill or dying, it is not spoken about and families often hide the fact that their relatives had AIDS.
People still feel that it is something that happens to others and not to their families. People who are infected fear rejection and discrimination from those around them and try to hide their illness. Although testing is available, only about one in ten people who are HIV positive know it. This means that they can carry on infecting others without knowing it.
There are myths around AIDS and they lead to people seeing it as a scandal that should be kept secret. Many people see those with AIDS as people who were promiscuous or homosexual. AIDS is almost seen as a plague that you can catch just from being with someone who is HIV positive. In some communities people with AIDS have been chased out or attacked.
In countries where the infection rate has gone down, this only happened after so many people became ill that people could no longer pretend it was not happening and everyone started fearing that they will be next. We cannot afford to wait that long and must find ways of bringing the epidemic into the open now.
The challenge for us is to make people fear getting the disease without them turning against those who are already HIV positive.
This means that we have to make it easier for people to be open, to go for tests and to seek care. We have to treat it as an illness and not a scandal that has to be kept secret. We have to create an environment where communities become more caring towards people living with AIDS and orphans and we all take responsibility for education around prevention.
How do you treat AIDS
You can find out whether you are HIV positive by having a free blood test at any clinic or hospital. The results will only be given to you. If you are positive you should tell your sexual partners so that they can also be tested and you should only practice safe sex.
There is no cure for AIDS. People can live with AIDS for many years if they get proper care. Healthy eating, exercise, a clean environment and a positive mental attitude can make a big difference. [See a healthy diet for people living with AIDS]. There are also many medicines that can help to fight the infections that easily kill people with AIDS. Many of them are available at clinics and the government is working to get more affordable medicines to people who need them.
In first world countries people are treated with antiretroviral drugs that strengthen their immune system and slow down the virus. These drugs cannot cure you, but sometimes help people live healthy lives for longer. These drugs can be very dangerous if they are not properly taken and they also cost thousands of Rands per month for each patient. If you can afford to take drugs like AZT you also need to go for regular tests to check your white blood cells so that you can get the correct dosage of the drugs. These testes can only be done in laboratories and also cost a lot of money. Our health system cannot presently afford to give these drugs to all people and also does not have the infrastructure to monitor their use.
Mother to child infection can be limited in some cases by giving the mother anti-retroviral drugs. The Department of Health is doing research programmes in all provinces with these drugs, but they have not yet been approved as safe for general use.
The rights of people living with AIDS
People with HIV and AIDS in South Africa are protected by our Bill Of Rights and have the same rights which protects all citizens.
- There can be no discrimination against anyone who has HIV and AIDS.
- They have the right to medical treatment and care from our health and welfare services.
- Children with HIV are allowed to attend any school.
- No one can be fired from a job just because they are HIV positive
- No one can be forced to have an HIV test at work or before getting a job.
- Test results cannot be shown to anyone else without the permission of the person who had the test.
- Pregnant women with HIV have the right to make a choice about their pregnancy.
Insurance companies can insist on people being tested for HIV and may refuse life insurance. But many insurance companies do have special policies for people who are HIV positive.
GOVERNMENTS FIVE YEAR STRATEGY ON AIDS
We included this summary of the government's strategy on HIV and AIDS to help you understand how government plans to fight this epidemic.
The government has drawn up a strategy to fight AIDS that seeks to unite all sectors in a common programme. It is important to understand this strategy and to see where our campaign can support and deepen the government plan.
The national health department is the main driver of a strategic plan to coordinate the fight against AIDS by the whole country. Various government departments and sectors were consulted in the drawing up of this plan. These include traditional healers, business and religious organisations. The priority areas in this plan are:
- Treatment, care and support;
- Legal and human rights;
- Monitoring, research and evaluation
WHAT FACTORS LEAD TO THE SPREAD OF AIDS
Unprotected sex and having many sexual partners are the main reasons for the spread of the disease.
In South Africa, the underlying causes of the rapid spread of AIDS include social and economic factors such as poverty, lack of access to health and social services, migrant labour, sex workers, the low status of women, illiteracy, lack of formal education, stigma and discrimination. The high rate of rape also exposes women to HIV. The national plan addresses all these issues.
Other health conditions which are linked to the HIV and AIDS epidemic are:
- TB - which is the most frequent cause of death of people living with HIV;
- STD's - sexually transmitted diseases are a health problem and often lead to HIV infection
WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED
- Since 1994, government has initiated plans to combat the AIDS epidemic. These include:
- Placing high profile political leadership at the forefront of the fight against AIDS
- Increasing resources and building capacity at district level to manage, organise and implement the HIV and AIDS/STD programme
- Training of AIDS coordinators in each province
- Providing HIV and AIDS lifeskills course for schools
- Establishing the South African AIDS vaccine initiative to develop a preventative, affordable vaccine by 2005.
- Establishing the National AIDS Council, chaired by the Deputy President which advises government on all
- aspects related to HIV and AIDS. Provincial AIDS councils have also been set up.
- Partnership against AIDS launched by President Mbeki in 1998.
There are also a number of weaknesses related to capacity, resources and lack of coordination in what was done so far and the plan tries to address these.
GOALS OF THIS PLAN
- Reduce the number of new HIV infections (especially among youth) and
- Reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS on individuals, families and communities
KEY STRATEGIES TO ACHIEVE GOALS
The main strategies that will be used are:
- A public awareness drive to influence behaviour change and encourage openness;
- Increase access to voluntary HIV testing and counselling;
- Promote increased condom use to reduce the spread of STD and HIV infections;
- Improve the treatment of people living with AIDS
The strategy is guided be a set of principles:
- Full participation in all strategies by people living with AIDS and community involvement in prevention and care.
- Non- discrimination and protection of rights of HIV infected people.
- Sensitivity to the culture, language and social circumstances of people
- Government is responsible for providing education, care and welfare for all people
- Government and civil society must be involved in the fight against AIDS.
STRATEGIES FOR FOUR PRIORITY AREAS
- Reduce the rate of STDs
- Promote safer sex and change sexual behaviour
- Reduce mother to child transmission through testing and counselling
- Ensure safe blood supplies
- Better services for people exposed to HIV infected persons through contact with blood or by sexual assault
- Increase access to voluntary HIV testing and counselling services such as at workplaces.
TREATMENT, CARE AND SUPPORT
- Improve treatment, care and support for people living with AIDS in hospitals, clinics and by doctors. Increase access to affordable medicines and treatment.
- Provide better care and support services in the communities. Provide resources for home care and address stigma in communities.
- Develop and implement programmes to support children and orphans affected by AIDS.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
- Research the development of an AIDS vaccine by 2005
- Research on anti- retroviral drugs and reducing mother to child transmission.
- Research on other forms of treatment including traditional medicines
- Regular monitoring of AIDS programme
- Create a culture of openness and acceptance around HIV and AIDS and STDs
- Ensure that the rights of people living with AIDS are protected.
- Develop mechanisms to assist people living with AIDS to enforce their rights.
This plan can only succeed if all sectors of society join in the partnership to win the fight against HIV and AIDS. The underlying causes like poverty also need to be addressed. This plan will be assessed and updated.
To run an effective campaign you have to have a STATEGY that involves the following:
- Aims of the campaign - what are the main things you want to achieve with the campaign
- Target - who are you trying to win over, reach or involve in each part of the campaign
- Slogan and message - what slogan will be used to give the campaign an identity and what are the main message themes you will try to get across to people
- Campaign methods - what are the best methods to implement your campaign
- Aims and tasks of an HIV and AIDS campaign
The main aims of tan HIV and AIDS campaign should be:
- To reduce the rate of infection and
- To provide care and support for people living with AIDS and their families.
Achieving these aims will take years and we cannot run this campaign in a few months with lots of publicity and little follow-up. Organisations have to do ongoing work on a long-term campaign.
Government concentrates on education, prevention, treatment, care and research into vaccines. Organisations that lead in our society can:
- Educate people about preventing HIV infection through changing their sexual behaviour
- Raise awareness to create more openness about the disease and to make communities more supportive of people living with AIDS
- Develop community care projects for people living with AIDS and AIDS orphans.
Organisations with a national leadership should strategise about how their leaders can help to change public attitudes. This can involve things like:
- Wearing the red ribbon
- Using all opportunities to show support for the campaign
- Acting as role models for how to treat people living with AIDS
- Encouraging testing and openness
Campaign action at local level can include the following five key things:
- Running a broad public education campaign about prevention of AIDS, non-discrimination and care for people living with AIDS, that aims to reach as many people as possible
- Organising local awareness raising events and campaigns to change sexual behaviour and attitudes to people with AIDS
- Creating openness about the disease by speaking about it, publicly supporting people who are open and encouraging voluntary testing
- Organising support for people with AIDS by mobilising volunteers into community care projects
- Organising community support and care for AIDS orphans
The AIDS campaign should reach every person in our community in some way, but we should also target specific sectors to make sure different parts of the campaign are effective.
For the education and prevention part of the campaign we must ask: who is most likely to get AIDS and/or to spread the virus?
Our actions should target the following vulnerable groups:
- Sexually active youth
- Migrant and transport workers
- Sex workers
- Women who are in relationships with HIV positive men and who are powerless to insist on safe sex.
- Men who are HIV positive
- Drug users who use needles
For the parts of our campaign that creates awareness and openness we should ask: who can most influence people's attitudes?
We should try and involve people like:
- The local mayor
- Ward councillors
- MPs and MPLs
- Our local and regional leadership
- Church leaders
- Traditional leaders
- Sport and cultural stars
- Popular business people
- Community organisations leaders
- Shop stewards
- Community radio DJs and reporters
For the support and community care part of our campaign we should ask: who will benefit most from care and support and who can we draw in to help?
Those that will benefit most are:
- People who are HIV positive and need information, care and support
- People who are sick with AIDS and need home care
- Children whose parents are dying or have died of AIDS
Those whom we can draw in to help could be:
- Our own structures and members
- Community welfare organisations
- Religious groups
- Women's groups
- Local business
- Individual volunteers for home care or foster care projects
We would also have to work closely with government health and welfare services and workers, since they will work with and support community care initiatives.
- Message and slogan
A very important part of your strategy is the broad message you want to communicate and the slogan that sums it up. "Message themes" are the ideas we try to get across in everything we say and do. A campaign message is usually only a few sentences long, but it is used as the basis for all speeches, pamphlets, radio interviews, etc. A campaign will have much more impact if the message is clear and if everyone involved keeps saying the same things. If a campaign is both national and local it is important to create a campaign identity by using a uniform slogan and message.
Here are some examples:
The Treatment Action Campaign encourages people to wear T-shirts with the slogan "HIV positive". This helps to bring AIDS awareness out to the public.
The slogan of the ANC-lead HIV and AIDS campaign is: "Together we can" and different endings can be added to this slogan. For example ".. prevent the spread of AIDS" or ".. care for orphans."
The Love Life campaign has many different slogans that appeal to young people.
Your organisation should decide what your main messages are. Here are some examples:
Message on the importance of the struggle against AIDS:
- All of us are affected when half the children in this country may never grow up, when a quarter of our workforce may die in the next decade, when millions of children without parents, basic care or education have to look after themselves. AIDS is our problem.
Messages for prevention:
- ABC - Abstain, Be faithful or Condomise
- It is your responsibility to get tested, and if you are HIV positive, not to pass on the disease to your partners.
- Respect your partner enough to only have safe sex
- Real men can make the difference - Stop abuse and respect your partner enough to only have safe sex
- There is no cure yet for AIDS but it can be prevented
- You can only get AIDS from unsafe sex or from mixing your blood with the blood of someone who is HIV positive [ blood transfusion, using same needles for injections, mother to child during birth process]
Messages to promote openness, support and care and end discrimination
- While we are hiding this disease we will not be able to fight it. We must break the silence and shame that surrounds AIDS and deal with it openly and honestly
- AIDS is not an individual problem - it is so widespread that it affects all of us. All of us have a duty to join the struggle against AIDS.
- Let's start talking and bring AIDS into the open so we can deal with it. Talk to your children. Speak out if you or your loved ones are affected. Let's break the silence and stand by those who are suffering.
- People living with AIDS need our support and care - they are no different from people with any other illness, why treat them differently.
- No-one should be blamed if they get the disease. It can happen to any of us.
- You cannot get AIDS from someone by sharing cups, plates, facilities or toilets with them. You can touch, hug or kiss someone with AIDS without fear.
Each organisation could add their own message themes, but it is important that we all try to reinforce the ones above. We should avoid situations where the public gets confused because organisations have totally conflicting messages.
- Campaign methods
Campaign methods should match the aims and main tasks of the campaign. We will look at six main areas of campaign action and give some tips for methods that can be used. The areas are:
- Public Education
- Awareness raising
- Openness about AIDS and people living with AIDS
- Care for people who are sick with AIDS
- Care for orphans
- Motivating other people to get involved
Public education should aim to get to as many people as possible to educate them about prevention and issues like non-discrimination and support for people living with AIDS. Always remember to select your target groups carefully and to stick to the message themes. Here are some ideas:
- Speeches - ask schools, churches, organisations and workplaces in your area if you can send a speaker to come and talk about HIV and AIDS. Speeches/talks should be about 30 minutes long and you should leave lots of time for questions. Use the information on page 1,2 and 3 as the basis for a speech. Also tell people what their rights are and where they can go for help. Make sure to train all your speakers so that they understand the issues, the message themes and can answer difficult questions.
- Workshops - a workshop can be a few hours long and is a good way to educate people. Workshops give people a chance to discuss issues in more detail. [See workshop outline in box below]
- Plays and songs - culture can be a very effective way of getting your message across to people who do not want to sit in meetings or workshops. Involve cultural groups in developing education programmes
- Forums/community meetings - forums are meetings of interested people from your community or from a specific target group, where people come together to discuss an issue. Try to involve sympathetic community leaders like politicians, councillors, religious leaders and health workers. The leaders should be there to listen and to give leadership - a forum is meant to be a chance for people to come and talk about their problems. Speakers should make only a very short introductory speech that covers the main issues/problems and then ask for the participants to give their experiences and their views about what should be done. Leaders can sum up the way forward at the end of a forum.
- Door-to-door - do house visits to go and talk to people about AIDS
- Pamphlets - pamphlets are a good way of spreading information about HIV and AIDS as well as services offered by organisations. The Department of Health has many simple pamphlets you can use. If you write your own, keep pamphlets short and simple.
- Radio/newspapers - talk to local community and regional radio as well as newspapers about doing stories that will educate people about prevention, non-discrimination and care. Ask for space to run a talk show or advice column on HIV and AIDS.
PUBLIC EDUCATION WORKSHOP OUTLINE - 2 hours
1. Do you know anyone? Questions to audience 5 minutes [Ask the audience to put up their hands if they know anyone they think died of AIDS. Most people will put up their hands. Then ask them whether it was publicly admitted at the funeral, that the person had AIDS. Few will put up their hands. Use this to lead to next question] 2. Why is there a silence around AIDS? Buzz groups 15 minutes [ Ask people to discuss this question with two people next to them for five minutes. Then get each group to make one point only until all points are out. Add your own from the manual if they leave some out.] 3. Facts about AIDS and local services Input
[ Use the introduction and Part 1 of the manual to do an input on AIDS. Add any local information on services that you can find. Allow for questions] 4. What can we do? Group discussion
Reportback + discussion
[ Break people into groups of 5-10 and ask them to discuss these two questions:
- What can we do to protect ourselves against infection?
- What can we do to help people living with AIDS and orphans in our community?
After 30 minutes let each group make a brief report. Add in some of the things that are being done locally and ask people to join any projects that exist.]
5. Personal pledges Individual task 15 minutes [Ask people to each think of a pledge (promise) they can make about what they will change in their attitudes or behaviour after this workshop. Give them a few minutes and then go around the room and let each person speak. If you are recruiting volunteers - have forms for people to sign up] 6. Close and thank people
Awareness campaigns are used to make issues visible and to change public attitudes. They should aim to get publicity and to directly reach thousands of people. Be sensitive in the way you campaign. People are easily turned away by campaigns that are too aggressive or negative. Here are some methods you could use:
- Posters/pamphlets/graffiti - use posters and pamphlets to raise the issues or give people information. Get them from other organisations or make your own. Get permission from the council to paint an educational mural in a public place.
- Marches, events and culture - use marches, cultural events and parties to mobilise community support. Use "Breaking the silence" events where people living with AIDS come to talk about their experiences, or plays and songs that show the reality of HIV and AIDS.
- Protests - support the campaign against drug companies that do not make medicines available cheaply to developing countries. Protest against any employer or body that discriminates against people living with AIDS.
- Prayer meetings, funerals and other community events - Call special prayer meetings around AIDS. Get traditional leaders to call their subjects together to discuss AIDS. Use funerals of people who died of AIDS as an opportunity to raise awareness - be sensitive to the family's wishes.
- Loudhailers, information tables, etc - use loudhailers to talk in taxi ranks or in train carriages, set up information tables at busy places.
- Radio/newspapers - ask local media to raise awareness through phone-ins on radio, or interviewing people living with AIDS and your organisations. Get newspapers to publicise events and write letters to the letters page. Issue press statements and invite reporters to events.
Openness about AIDS and people living with AIDS
We have to actively promote openness about AIDS and a more supportive environment for people living with AIDS. Unless we bring the disease into the open we cannot deal with it effectively. If we cannot break the silence in our own ranks we cannot expect society to do so. As organisations we can:
- Encourage and support people living with AIDS to go public about their status
- Ask people living with AIDS to sit on platforms and speak at meetings with our leaders
- Encourage testing by organising testing drives and asking those leaders who are willing to go public about their results
- Create role models for how to cope with AIDS, by encouraging our leaders and other influential people who are HIV positive to reveal their status and to help campaign and raise awareness.
Support and care for people living with AIDS.
An important focus in a campaign should be to provide better support and care for people living with AIDS.
Many people who are HIV positive can lead long and productive lives if they look after their health. The immune system is weakened by the virus and many people die from ordinary illnesses like flu because their bodies are too weak to fight the illness.
Emotional and mental health are also important. People living with AIDS need support from their communities and from each other.
As organisations we can:
- Openly organise support and care so that HIV and AIDS becomes a community issue and we help to destroy the secrecy and shame that many people live with.
- Educate people with HIV and AIDS about healthy eating [see box below]
- Start vegetable garden projects to help provide the right food types to people who cannot afford them
- Make sure our local health services have supplies of the cheap medicines that the government is making available to fight the common infections that easily kill people with AIDS
- Help organise projects, support or discussion groups where people living with AIDS can meet and talk to each other
- Educate people living with AIDS about their rights in terms of medicine, grants, employment, non-discrimination, etc.
Keeping a healthy body
People living with HIV or AIDS need different foods from healthy people. HIV and AIDS and the medicines people have to take can make you lose a lot of weight, feel cold all the time and get serious stomach problems. This will make you weaker and when you are weak you can more easily get serious infections. Because you easily get infections it is also very important to clean and cook food properly and to drink only clean water.
- Drink two litres of water a day
- Drink sour milk, milk or yoghurt
- Eat beans, lentils, eggs or meat every day if you can - beans are just as good as meat if you put a tablespoon of uncooked sunflower oil with it before serving.
- All vegetables and fruits are very good
- For a healthy stomach eat raw garlic, raw carrots or dried pumpkin seeds.
- Eat a lot of grains and starch - maize, rice, sorghum, brown bread
- Sugar is very bad for the immune system and causes stomach problems
- Fried foods and cooked oils stop the stomach from being able to digest food
- Spicy food can also cause stomach upsets - do not eat too much
- Keep yourself occupied and interested in things to avoid depression
- Try to exercise without straining yourself
- Get enough sleep and rest
- Find people you can talk to about your feelings
- Smoke, drink or use addictive drugs
- Go on diet or lose too much weight
People who are bedridden
For those people who are seriously ill we must try to mobilise volunteers to help with community care projects.
Many people living with AIDS become weak and bedridden. There is not enough space for all of them to be looked after in hospitals and most people are cared for by their families. In many cases the sick person was a breadwinner and is a parent. Their children often become the main carers and they themselves need support.
Community care projects have been set up in many parts of Africa. This is how they work:
- Most people sick with AIDS are cared for by someone at home - often an old woman or a child. The patients as well as the care -givers are visited at home and given some training and support by volunteers. They also learn basic things to protect themselves - like not to touch blood or body fluids of the sick person without covering their hands in plastic bags.
- Volunteers are trained to give basic advice, health care and support to a cluster of people who are sick at home and their care- givers. They assist people to link with health and welfare services and help them to get access to medicine and disability or child grants. Volunteers do some health care and counselling work through home visits to people who are no longer able to get to clinics. They educate and help families to cope and identify children who need support and care.
- Volunteers are usually coordinated by welfare organisations that work with, and under the supervision of, the government health and welfare services in the area. This makes it easier to get help for people who need to go to hospital or to get a pension or grant.
Community care projects work best if they are joint projects coordinated between health and welfare services and community organisations. They must be well coordinated and managed since many people will depend on them for basic care.
Local municipalities can also play a big role in mobilising and supporting community care projects.
As organisations we can mobilise volunteers to work with the department of health, local welfare organisations and churches. Volunteers will have to be trained and could get some basic qualifications from training courses. In some areas unemployed school-leavers have been targeted as volunteers.
Community care for AIDS orphans
In many communities there are already projects to help care for orphans. They are not reaching everyone and especially in poor rural areas little is being done. AIDS orphans can access government services and financial support, but many do not know how.
We cannot build enough orphanages to look after everyone and many experts believe that community care is much better for children. Community care can take a number of forms:
- Care by relatives - this is the most common and often the best form of care since children stay with people they know. Relatives who look after orphans can access government support grants if they are poor.
- Foster care - where individual children are placed worth families and looked after. The families can usually get the government support grants to help with costs. Many welfare societies can help with this.
- Group foster parents - a group of orphans are housed in one place and looked after by a foster parent. Examples are farmers building a house for all the orphans on the farm and employing an adult to look after them, so they can stay in their community.
- Child headed families - an older child looks after brothers and sisters and they stay in the family home.
- Community childcare committees - volunteers help children who live alone by becoming part-time parents and providing some support.
None of these are easy to organise - you need help from the Department of Social Services or organisations like Child Welfare Society. Foster parents should get some training and should be monitored so that they do not just do it for the money.
Grants for orphans can only be accessed if the child has a birth certificate and if the parent/s deaths are registered.
- Do an audit of the number of AIDS orphans in the area - work with local municipalities, schools, traditional leaders and health and welfare services.
- Find out what projects or services are available in your area and make sure orphans are put in touch with them
- Recruit volunteers to help with community care programmes
- Run an awareness campaign to encourage people to register births and deaths
- Visit orphans and make sure they are in school and being looked after by someone
- Identify children in need and try to organise care for them
Motivating other people to get involved
Use this table when you are talking to any of the sectors listed here. It will give you some ideas about what you can ask them to do.
Sector Public education/ awareness raising/ openness Community care for people living with AIDS or orphans Community organisations Hold discussion and education meetings around AIDS, and what we can do.Organise local campaigns and eventsCreate a culture of support for people living with AIDS. Recruit volunteers for community care programmesWork with welfare and health servicesPressurise municipality to get involved Local welfare organisations and NGOs Give talks and workshops at schools, churches and organisational or community meetings.Monitor health, welfare and other services and lobby for improvements, eg. For health services to work with volunteer care givers. Organise care projects for people living with AIDS and orphansTrain care volunteersTrain foster parentsSupport child headed households Trade unions Educate members and encourage openness and testing.
Engage employers in programmes.
Raise awareness and work to change men's attitudes
Create positive role models
Protect rights of workers living with AIDS
Pressurise workplaces to develop policies
Push for treatment and support programmes in workplaces
Local municipalities and councillors Bring together all stakeholders to develop a local plan for dealing with AIDS
Support education programmes or initiate them
Do research about needs, identify support services and strengthen them.
Politicians take the lead to create positive role models and openness.
Business Get own house in order with good education programmes, policies and services.
Support community programmes
Practice non-discrimination in employment
Support sick employees or orphans from deceased employees
Health Workers Run education programmes in community and clinics, on prevention, treatment, testing and care
Openly discuss AIDS with all patients and encourage testing.
Counselling for positive people
Training and coordination of home care volunteers
Compassionate and good treatment for patients
Social workers Community education programmes
Rights education about laws and grants
Counsel clients who are positive
Help set up community care projects
Train and monitor volunteers and foster parents
Help clients access grants
Student organisations Education and awareness programmes
Create role models
Encourage openness and testing
Set up counselling services
Recruit students to assist as volunteers in community care projects
Teachers Life skills training in classes.
Encourage openness and try to change attitudes of boys towards girls
Identify families in need
Provide counselling and support
Recruit volunteers to provide care for orphans
Cultural and sport clubs Cultural events like plays and songs against AIDS. Sports events focus on AIDS awareness.
Hold workshops and invite speakers
Support people who are positive
Raise funds and recruit volunteers
Religious leaders Promote openness and hold workshops
Remove stigma of "sin" Teach responsible behaviour
Support role models and promote testing
Set up counselling and care projects for people with AIDS and orphans
AIDS HELPLINE NUMBER 0800 012 322
- For information, advice and contacts with services in your area
If you have comments on how we can improve this guide, fax them to: ETU at 021 434 5550, or eMail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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