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HIV & AIDS PROGRAMS:
AWARENESS, SUPPORT & CARE
1). How did these HIV programs start?
In 2000-2001, the executive director of READ, Mr. Selvam and the founder of Sahaya International, Dr. Koen Van Rompay had someshocking experiences when they realized the low level of HIV awareness. Together they decided to embark on a mission to raise more HIV awareness in a number of these villages.
With a grant from the John M. Lloyd Foundation, pilot programs were initiated to break the silence, by training social workers (including field-staff) who would start talking about HIV/AIDS during their programs in the villages.
In addition, on his annual trips to India, Koen Van Rompay would, together with Mr. Selvam, visit many schools and self-help groups to talk about HIV/AIDS and to clarify doubts and misconceptions. For a short summary of these HIV programs at READ from 2001 through 2004, you can read Koen Van Rompay's article entitled "Motor-biking through rural India on an HIV mission", (click here to open or download the pdf file) published in the November 2004 issue of the journal "AIDS".
You must have Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader to view the downloadable files. If you do not already have Acrobat, please download it for free from Adobe first.
To read a more detailed story, please (click here to open).
2). The Perambalur Education and Prevention Program (January to December 2005)
A manuscript describing this program has been published recently in 2008 in the journal "Human Resources for Health", and can be downloaded from here: http://www.human-resources-health.com/content/6/1/6
In 2004, the team of experts of READ and Sahaya International, in particular Mr. D. Selvam, Dr. Purnima Madhivanan, Mirriam Rafiq, Karl Krupp, and Dr. Koen Van Rompay, designed this peer education program for Perambalur District. Thanks to a grant of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (London, UK), this program was launched in January 2005. This program is run by READ and includes other NGO's that are active in Perambalur district, and form the "AIM Network". In summary, the program consisted of the following components:
- Training of 20 NGO field staff as outreach workers with high knowledge on issues including sex, sexuality, HIV/AIDS (prevention, support and care), sexually transmitted infections (STI), counseling, confidentiality and stigma reduction. These outreach workers then train and guide the peer educators and also perform additional HIV awareness programs for community groups.
- Training of 102 women self-help groups leaders as peer health educators on HIV/AIDS and STI-related topics . These peer health educators organize many HIV awareness programs for the women self-help groups of their area.
- Training of 52 barbers as peer educators on basic HIV and STI issues, disinfection of instruments and condom use.
- Development of educational cartoons and materials on HIV/AIDS (click here to download these materials).
- Referrals to reliable hospitals and voluntary counseling and testing centers for diagnosis and treatment of STI and HIV, with follow-up counseling and .
- A cultural team that performs street theater programs on HIV/AIDS in the villages.
- The program was monitored and evaluated by means of daily record-keeping, questionnaires, regular group meetings, and focus-group discussions.
- The program is estimated to have reached over 30,000 villagers in the district through 2051 interactive
HIV awareness programs and one-on-one communication. Outreach workers (OWs) and peer educators
distributed approximately 62,000 educational materials and 69,000 condoms, and also referred approximately
2,844 people for services including voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), care and support for HIV, and
diagnosis and treatment of sexually-transmitted infections (STI).
- At least 118 individuals were newly diagnosed as persons living with HIV (PLHIV); 129 PLHIV were referred to the Government Hospitals for extra medical support.
- Focus group discussions indicate that the program was well received in the communities, led to improved health awareness, and also provided the peer educators with increased social status.
To see more pictures from this program, please click here to open or download the pdf file.
3). PLHIV network:
- Since 2002, READ runs a network to assist persons living with HIV (PLHIV). This network is called HIV-positive network named “Malarum Mottukal” (meaning “blossoming flower”). This network has grown to more than 100 members, who come from all over Andimadam, Sendurai and Jayankondam Blocks of Ariyalur district.
- The network meets monthly and provides counseling, medical assistance and referrals. Due to distance and/or health issues, usually an average of 80 members attend the monthly meetings.
- The network members also receive a stipend to help them with their travel expenses to reach the government hospitals and the ARV centers for medical examinations and to pick up their supply of medications.
- The PLHIV have been provided with micro-loans (managed as a revolving fund) to initiate income-generating activities (such as goats, cows, sewing machine etc).
- In 2009, trained READ staff and PLHIV provided training on Home-based care to 64 additional PLHIV. These trainings were done with the "Home-based care/ Caring for someone with HIV " training curricula developed by our partner organization I-TECH (International Training and Education Center on HIV). Following the training, the PLHIV received a bag with a first-aid kid.
- In January 2010, entrepreneurship training was given to 25 PLHIV, and at that time, 9 members were provided with a small loan for a micro-enterprise.
- These network activities have been made possible thanks to generous grant support from the Gilead Foundation (Gilead Sciences).
4). Orphan support programs:
Many children are affected by HIV/AIDS, either because they are infected themselves, or because they have parents who live with HIV/AIDS or who have passed away. These children live in deplorable situations. If you want to understand better how many of these HIV-affected families live, please take a moment to look at the audiovisual slide-show (click here to see the slide-show) or the newspaper article (click here to see the article) by Francine Orr, staff photographer of the Los Angeles Times, who visited our programs in July 2006.
Therefore, in collaboration with Sahaya International, READ has been running programs to support such children, either through individual sponsorship by well-wishers in the USA or Europe, or by general donations and fundraising activities such as Sahaya Walks. Currently more than 190 needy orphans and vulnerable children are being helped.
5). HIV/AIDS Education Program at schools:
Trained READ staff gave HIV awareness training to students and teachers of the higher secondary, and matriculation schools in Ariyalur, Cuddalore and Perambalur district. In Cuddalore district, 900 students and 450 Teachers were trained. In Ariyalur district, ~ 1000 students and 250 teachers were trained. These trained students and teachers then did awareness programs for the students from X to XII-th standard (total of 150 schools, and 54,000 students).
6). MSM Peer Education Program - Cuddalore:
In previous years, with support of the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TNSACS), a peer education program for men-having-sex-with-mean (MSM), aravani and general public was implemented in Cuddalore and its surrounding areas. The staff, assisted by 15 volunteers and 30 peer educators, provided information on HIV/AIDS, STD and counseling, and distributed approximately 60,000 condoms.
This program is currently no longer active due to completion of the grant support.
We can use your support!
Although significant progress has already been made, there is an urgent need for funding to continue these programs, including support and care programs (including orphan programs), and expand them to more villages that are currently not covered.
Individuals or organizations In India or other countries can also send money directly to READ (click here).
If you live in the USA or in Europe, you can help READ with your contributions via Sahaya International.
Our 2005 team of HIV outreach workers