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.

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

HIV Info Rights for any legal question on HIV status

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HIV INFO RIGHTS FOR ANY LEGAL QUESTION ON HIV STATUS
November 30, 2016

VIH info droits (HIV info rights) is a service within COCQ-SIDA* that aims to defend the rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS, and provide information and legal assistance devoted exclusively to issues linked to the HIV status of a person. It offers a variety of tools designed to help people make informed choices. It targets persons living with HIV as well as anyone involved in situations related to the former’s rights (care providers, health networks, employers etc.)

For more information, contact VIH info droits: Geneviève Binette – 514 844 2477 ext. 34 or 1 866 535 0481 ext. 34 (free of charge) – vih-infodroits@cocqsida.com

* Coalition of community organizations from Quebec in the fight against AIDS

The Global Fund and Africagay against AIDS, partners in defence of LGBT rights

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THE GLOBAL FUND AND AFRICAGAY AGAINST AIDS, PARTNERS IN DEFENCE OF LGBT RIGHT*
November 30, 2016

Africagay2The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria provides indispensable support to anti-AIDS associations that work to defend the basic rights of LGBT persons in Africa. These include the 19 members of the Africagay network against AIDS. Members of Coalition PLUS, ANSS (Burundi), ARCAD-SIDA (Mali) and REVS+ (Burkina Faso) are part of this network, which is one of a kind, with technical and financial support from the French associations, AIDES (founding member of Coalition PLUS) and Sidaction.

The second “Africagay Network Day against AIDS” was held last October in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The aim was to fight for equitable access to care in Africa, irrespective of social orientation and gender identity.

« Homosexuals are afraid to leave their homes because there is discrimination in health institutions. Doctors say » ‘I won’t touch a homosexual, my religion forbids it !’ » Homosexuals living with HIV prefer to die at home than to go to those services. » Yves – LGBT militant – Cameroon.

More than 97% of new HIV infections take place in developing countries and only 18% of the world’s States implement HIV-prevention programmes among homosexual and bisexual men, whereas the latter are 5 to 25 times more affected by the virus than the general population. All told, 39 of the 54 countries of the African continent still criminalize homosexuality, condemning gay people to remain in hiding, far from care systems, without treatment or prevention tools.

For more information on the Africagay network against AIDS go to: africagay.org

* Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
Illustration : @ AIDES — Africagay against AIDS
PHOTO : Africagay, an African combat

 

Together, let’s build a world without AIDS or HIV

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aidsOn the occasion of World AIDS Day 2016, on the 1st of December, COCQ-SIDA* is launching a real rallying message to put an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Stressing the importance of collective work, collaboration and solidarity, this key message invites each and every one to learn about the reality of HIV and ways to protect themselves, and to contribute to the fight against the epidemic through donations, volunteering and pressure on public institutions and by fighting against discrimination and stigmatization.

We know now that it is possible to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but there is a long way to go to attain the objective set by UNAIDS for 2030, including in Quebec: invest in prevention, improve access to testing and care, adequately finance grassroot community work, support specialized lodging services etc.

Fqsida has taken ownership of this message so that it can be relayed on a large scale all over Quebec. That is why we are inviting each and every one of you to disseminate it and share it massively on social media in a campaign also aimed at challenging government bodies and elected officials so as to intensify efforts and increase investments.

* Coalition of community organizations from Quebec in the fight against AIDS

Let’s refuse discrimination, sign the petition

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LET’S REFUSE DISCRIMINATION, SIGN THE PETITION
May 17, 2016

The use of pre-employment medical questionnaires in recruitment processes is clearly condemned by law, yet this discriminatory process is common, particularly in health establishments in Quebec. It has to stop, without delay. Sign the petition at www.pratiqueillegale.com.SI-VIR-16_PhotocouvertureTwitter_v2

The minister needs to take action
In order to have this illegal procedure stopped definitively, Fqsida is launching a vast campaign of mobilization on the web. Look out for us on Facebook and Twitter: we urge all Quebecois to sign a petition calling on Gaetan Barrette, Minister of Health and Social Services, to scrap this type of form from recruitment processes throughout the health network.

Just enforce the law
We are calling on the minister to take immediately all measures required to ensure that all establishments in the network, including the Ministry of Health and Social Services itself, review their recruitment processes and make them compliant with the law.

These medical questionnaires are, in fact, illegal since they discriminate against people based on their state of health by imposing obstacles to their access to jobs and their ability to keep jobs. People who declare a chronic illness or an infection like HIV are often refused employment.

Let’s sign for justice
We wish to give maximum visibility to this issue that is important for the entire Quebecois society. Join us and share our appeal to sign the petition on Facebook and Twitter.

Awareness campaign: « Today, I’m thinking positively »

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AWARENESS CAMPAIGN: « TODAY, I’M THINKING POSITIVELY »
Aujourd’hui, j’pense positif

November 26, 2015

MaternitéOn the occasion of World AIDS Day, COCQ-SIDA and its affiliates launch an appeal for a positive attitude so as to end discrimination against persons living with HIV.
Even though scientific and therapeutic advances have reduced the infectious nature of HIV and the risks of transmission of the virus, people living with HIV continue to be subjected to stigmatisation and discrimination.

TravailWork, neighbourly relations, alternative health care, friendship, love, sport and maternity are the 7 themes of this awareness campaign which places emphasis above all on « positiveness » so as to debunk the myths surrounding HIV, which are still deep-rooted.

Visit pensepositif.org (in french)

The Mutual Support Group for HIV-Positive, Homeless and Drug-Dependent Persons (GEIPSI)

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THE MUTUAL SUPPORT GROUP FOR HIV-POSITIVE,
HOMELESS AND DRUG-DEPENDENT PERSONS (GEIPSI)
May 13th, 2015

geipsiSince 1992, the Montreal organisation GEIPSI has been working with highly marginalised persons living with HIV/Aids or Hepatitis C who also have a profile of homelessness, drug-dependence and, sometimes, mental illness.

GEIPSI is a group for mutual aid, support and references. Our philosophy of intervention is founded on a relationship of trust and the conviction that everyone has the potential to act on his/her daily reality. Empathy and respect guide our actions and we work at many levels with participants so as to get them to become aware of their power to act.

GEIPSI fronts a gradual holistic approach that respects each person’s individual progression so as to foster:
— participants’ taking control of their health
— safe drug use habits
— safe sex practices
— social reinsertion
— empowerment

GEIPSI’s mandate also includes defending and promoting the interests and rights of these persons who face multiple odds that result in their social exclusion.
Some of the services it provides include a friendly day centre for taking “break from the street”, psychosocial services for personalised care, educational workshops known as “5 to 7” to learn about and develop safe habits and skills on a daily basis, community activities and dinners to break isolation, as well as Les Sans-Mots journal, which offers an opportunity to take part in a common project. The work of our little team enables us, in this way, to support our participants, minimise the negative impact of the problems they experience and, sometimes, help them to find a new lease on life.
Yvon Couillard, Director

GEIPSI stands for Groupe d’entraide à l’intention des personnes séropositives, itinérantes et toxicomanes.

 

Food insecurity and HIV/AIDS closely linked

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FOOD INSECURITY AND HIV/AIDS CLOSELY LINKED
February 18th, 2015

In a Quebec study* based on a sample of 319 people living with HIV, 58% of respondents reported living with food insecurity. That’s seven times higher than the provincial rate.

Whether it’s due to financial difficulty, physical limitations, or exclusion resulting from stigmatization, households affected by HIV can have a hard time maintaining a healthy, balanced diet (due to access to food, quality and diversity of food, etc.).

Food security on its own affects both physical and mental health, and can have a negative impact on quality of life. In addition, according to some data, by aggravating situations of vulnerability and inequality, a lack of food security can play a role in increasing the risk of HIV transmission, limit access to treatment and care, and is also associated with negative health outcomes for individuals on antiretroviral therapy.

While the negative relationship between food insecurity and HIV is easy to spot, it remains difficult to say whether food insecurity is a cause or effect of HIV.

* “Impact of Food Security on Health Outcomes in People Living with HIV/AIDS Across Canada” Community research carried out in 2013 in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec

Source (French only): jesuisseropo.org