The highways through Murupula and Milange carry an unwanted cargo – the frequent travel in these transport corridors facilitate the spread of HIV.
HIV and AIDS has eroded the social structure in these communities. When someone falls sick, a primary task of the family is to determine who has bewitched their family member.
The community suffers spiritually as well as physically.
Children are learning the relationship between medication for HIV/AIDS and the progression of the disease, and the need for testing.
Children stop going to school, because those who are ill and dying are also the labourers, and their children must fill the gaps. Their ailing family members can also no longer afford school supplies.
Women, who are less likely to be out in public, are less likely to begin HIV treatment and adhere to it. Adherence to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment is generally low, due to lack of education and information.
Our program partner, the Diocese of Niassa, trains Equipa de Vidas (Teams of Life) on basic HIV prevention. By going door-to-door these teams reach vulnerable people who don’t have access to testing facilities, usually the disabled and women. They encourage people to be tested, talk about their HIV status and stress the importance of using antiretroviral medication.
Over the next 6 months the program will achive the following:
Equipa de Vidas perform another important role in their communities - they provide support for orphaned children and mobilise groups to get projects off the ground. Recent projects include building a health post, installing stoves in the homes of sick people and planting church and community gardens to provide nutritious meals for vulnerable community members.
The untimely death of a close friend to AIDS prompted Alegria, 22, to find out more about how she could help. After hearing an announcement in her local church, she took part in a month-long internship focused on HIV and AIDS awareness. She learned about the importance of knowing your HIV status, available treatments and how to prevent the spread of HIV.
Alegria undertook further training as part of the Equipa De Vida program run by the Diocese of Niassa. She found this training really powerful. People were ready to listen to her, and she could help save lives, starting with her family who have all had HIV tests.
Alegria has now led training in six communities for a total of 120 people, who have then gone door-to-door teaching about HIV in their communities. People are very enthusiastic, calling her aside and asking for her help setting up mobile HIV testing units.