Because of the high level of discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS among the nomadic communities, it is often extremely difficult for those diagnosed to access treatment and support. People are often isolated from their community if they reveal that they are HIV positive, and so often live in denial and do not seek treatment.
AMREF is working with communities in South Omo to bring better facilities to the pastoralist population there, and to help educate communities and fight the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDs.
AMREF’s pastoralist health care project aims to:
- Support civil society in South Omo to promote the sexual reproductive health and rights of young people and vulnerable groups in the pastoralist communities.
- Empower and inform pastoralists, particularly young people and People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), to promote their sexual and reproductive health rights
- Increase access to quality, inclusive and comprehensive SRH/HIV services for pastoralists, particularly young people and PLWHA
- Increase access to improved livelihood and economic opportunities for vulnerable groups, particularly young women and men, including PLWHA
In figures: We aim to reach 96,300 adolescents’ between 10-24 years of age, 800 commercial sex workers and 5,000 people living with HIV/AIDS across South Omo
We will do all this by:
- Tailoring education campaigns on HIV/AIDS, family planning, and other reproductive health issues, which have resulted in a boost in the demand for services within the communities and more people being tested for HIV.
- Supporting communities to set up Youth clubs within villages and in schools, raising awareness on youth SRH rights, HIV/AIDS and harmful traditional practises through discussions and youth activities.
The project is now in its final year and has been a great success. Local councils involved in the programme have pledged to provide support to HIV/AIDS associations, and provided offices for them to run their associations free of charge. These associations have established the first PLWHA coalition, and have started to engage at government level on PLWHA issues. They have also started attending forums hosted by the government which will help bring greater change to an even larger number of marginalised communities.