Stigma hampering fight against HIV/AIDS - report

MUSANZE-Stigma and discrimination against People Living with HIV/Aids (PLWAs), mainly among the youth, remains a stumbling block to the fight against the scourge. According to a new survey, stigma and discrimination have limited access to counselling, tests, care and support services, as people continue to conceal their status.  The survey was presented during a workshop that brought together community health workers, local authorities and anti-AIDS clubs in Musanze District.

MUSANZE-Stigma and discrimination against People Living with HIV/Aids (PLWAs), mainly among the youth, remains a stumbling block to the fight against the scourge.

According to a new survey, stigma and discrimination have limited access to counselling, tests, care and support services, as people continue to conceal their status.

The survey was presented during a workshop that brought together community health workers, local authorities and anti-AIDS clubs in Musanze District.

The two-day training was organised by the Association of Vulnerable Widows Affected and Infected with HIV and AIDS (AVVAIS) under the theme HIV and human rights towards zero HIV- related stigma and discrimination.

According to AVVAIS coordinator, Chantal Nyiramunyana, the problem mainly lies with the youth, women and vulnerable groups like sex workers.

“We expect you to be our ambassadors in addressing this problem, support the youth, counsel those who are infected and help them in any way possible,” Nyiramunyana told the participants.

The survey, which was carried out countrywide, indicates that 60 percent of respondents were being pressurised to reveal their status to unaffected individuals.

A researcher involved in the study, Dr. Desire Kamanzi, observed that fighting stigma calls for collective efforts and empowering of PLWAs, in terms of medical care, counselling and testing. 

The survey, which will be presented to all districts countrywide, will engage local leaders to devise measures to fight against stigma.

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