REVS+ Burkina Faso – The challenge of caring for vulnerable communities

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REVS+ BURKINA FASO – THE CHALLENGE OF CARING FOR VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES
February 15, 2017

In December last, REVS+ – a member of Coalition PLUS in Burkina Faso – organized a major workshop in Ouagadougou involving many non-governmental organizations active in the fight against HIV/Aids or in the area of human rights, along with many of some of the country’s decision-makers and opinion leaders. The objective of the encounter was to tackle the difficulties linked to providing care for the most vulnerable groups affected by the epidemic in Burkina Faso, and to ensure that these populations are less stigmatized and, at the same time, that greater consideration is given to their fundamental rights and health care needs.

Martine Somda – President of REVS+ and Administrator of Coalition PLUS
Credit : © Coalition PLUS

For Martine Somda, President of REVS+ and Administrator of Coalition PLUS, this workshop was « a victory in that it convinced the decision-makers and opinion leaders present to confront the issues of access to prevention services, care and HIV treatment for all citizens, regardless of gender, religion or sexual orientation and gender identity, with serenity, determination and pragmatism ».

Progress has certainly been registered in Burkina Faso in the fight against AIDS, with the HIV-prevalence rate dropping from over 7% in 1997 to 0.8% today, according to UNAIDS. However, important challenges remain with regard to providing care for the estimated 95,000 persons living with HIV in the country, especially in the most socially or economically vulnerable communities.

To sustain the progress made in the years-long fight against AIDS, continuous outreach to prisoners, children, handicapped persons, sex workers, men who have sex with other men and injectable drug users is an imperative. Unfortunately, the social environment in Burkina Faso is still hostile or indifferent to these communities.

Pre-hiring questionnaires: an illegal but common practice!

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PRE-HIRING QUESTIONNAIRES: AN ILLEGAL BUT COMMON PRACTICE! 
February 15, 2017

Today you can be refused a job after stating in a pre-hiring questionnaire that you are living with HIV or another chronic ailment, even though you do not represent any risk for those around you.

The pratiqueillegale.com web campaign launched by Fqsida in May last highlighted the use, particularly in the Quebec health network, of these discriminatory questionnaires that are clearly condemned by the law.

The online petition calling for the elimination of these illegal questionnaires in the network’s establishments ended on the 31st of January. The signatures were sent to COCQ-SIDA so as to support its efforts to finally end this hiring discrimination and simply have the law respected.

Fqsida – A new director

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A NEW DIRECTOR FOR THE FQSIDA
February 15, 2017

We are happy to announce that Baya Touré has been appointed as general director of Fqsida. Baya knows the various issues linked to funding the fight against HIV and will help to give the Foundation a new impetus in an increasingly difficult context for member organizations, particularly with the budget cuts at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Key populations

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KEY POPULATIONS
February 15, 2017

In the current dynamic of the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the global level, the communities most exposed to the virus are male and female sex workers, men who have sexual relations with other men and injectable drug users. Because of the discrimination and even criminalization they are subjected to, these persons are, in fact, 10% to 24% more liable to be infected by HIV than the general population. What is at issue here is the limited access to prevention and care when their sexual practices or drug use are condemned by society and even the State. According to the terms of reference of the United Nations these are « key » populations in the epidemic.

Source : Pulsation – June 2016 – Coalition PLUS

The blog « Je suis séropo »

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THE BLOG « JE SUIS SÉROPO »
February 15, 2017

This is a space for words and thoughts on the reality of people living with HIV. The aim of this blog is to help reduce the stigmatization and discrimination against them using a personal approach through which the authors promote the values of mutual respect and solidarity, and positive attitudes towards people living with HIV.

Jacques, spokesman of the “I am HIV-positive” campaign, recently published on the blog a very good post on the question of testing, one which is so intimate and, at the same time, has collective relevance.

Excerpt – « First there was a time when knowing or not knowing had little importance, because the only message that people with AIDS received was: we cannot do anything for you, you are going to die.

Then there was a time when knowing would have made a difference, but we did not know that. We did not know that difference, so we developed approaches for identifying the moment when it was preferable to begin the treatments to help us live longer.

Now, we are at the time when it is clearly established that the earlier we know that we are infected, the sooner we can begin treatment that will yield many benefits for the rest of our lives.”

Read the entire post (in French only) on jesuisseropo.org

Federal funding : What future for the fight against HIV?

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FEDERAL FUNDING FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV
February 15, 2017

The Fqsida member organizations affected by the federal cuts, together with their Canadian counterparts, are pursuing their efforts to have their funding maintained and to obtain an in-depth review of the way Ottawa funds the fight against HIV.

At a time when ending the pandemic seems technically possible, the Federal Government’s lack of vision is to be deplored.

In this highly precarious context, your support for the fight against HIV in Quebec makes an even greater difference. Your one-time donations are also very precious to us! Thank you!

GEIPSI: WHAT FUTURE FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV?

Yvon Couillard is the general director of GEIPSI, a Montreal organization working with a highly marginalized clientele: people living with HIV/Aids or the Hepatitis C virus and who present a profile of homelessness, drug abuse and, sometimes, mental illness. The interview he gave us casts a worrying light on the future of the fight against HIV in Canada.
Federal funding represents 45% of the budget of GEIPSI. For Yvon, the priority is clear: the day centre must be maintained. However, the loss of federal funding would mean eliminating one of the two practitioner posts, reduced services and shorter opening hours.

For now Yvon is waiting for a response to his request for a transitional budget, which, when granted, enables the organizations concerned to keep receiving funding for a year, after which their directors have to present their strategic funding plan. The cuts planned by Ottawa are in no way called into question and the organizations are asked to find for themselves the money they need for their activities!

The situation is particularly worrying since Ottawa does not seem to have any vision on the fight against HIV and Hepatitis C. In Quebec, for example, organizations working with injectable drug users (who are among the key population groups), homeless persons or women (other than sex workers) are mostly threatened by the federal cuts. There does not seem to be any strategy to replace the services threatened by the cuts!

Yvon knows he can count on the mobilization of the community movement for the fight against HIV to obtain federal funding for 2018-2022 for the threatened organizations. However, he does not hide the concern of his team and his beneficiaries.