HIV: DECEMBER 1… AND EVERY OTHER DAY OF THE YEAR
November 14th, 2014
Every year around December 1st, HIV takes center stage for a few days in honour of World AIDS Day. The media take part by sharing messages of hope from partners involved in the fight against HIV, through the UNAIDS campaign, “Getting to zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”
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Since 2011, this leitmotiv has guided all our efforts, from the biggest organizations right down to the humblest local initiatives. But we also want you to know what’s happening day-to-day, from advances to pitfalls, from victories to disappointments. That’s why Fqsida is now on social media. Our Facebook page will be a place to strengthen our communication with the public, and better share information about this ever-urgent issue, and all its manifold implications: news, Fqsida member organizations’ initiatives, statistics, social progress, new approaches to prevention, testimonials, etc.
We will also use this new platform to thank you for your invaluable support, and highlight the immeasurable impact of your donations.
AFRICA THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS AND LGBT* RIGHTS
November 25t, 2014
As in Uganda, where President Museveni recently signed an act into law that considerably worsens the repression of homosexuality, 40% of UN member states – that’s 39 African countries out of 54 – still criminalize sexual relations between people of the same sex. We can no longer ignore the disastrous public health ramifications that stem from criminalization. Criminalization is also a major obstacle in the fight against HIV/AIDS, since it pushes people into hiding, and distances them from prevention and care services.
African community organizations ANSS and REVS+, members of Coalition PLUS, have long been working with and for LGBT communities in Burundi and Burkina Faso in the areas of prevention, human rights, and health issues. Both organizations are also members of Africagay against AIDS, a network of HIV/AIDS and LGBT associations from eight African countries, which receives technical and financial support from AIDES (a founding member of Coalition PLUS) and Sidaction. The network works to ensure that Africa’s LGBT communities have access to prevention and care, on the principle that the discrimination these people are subjected to is an affront to human rights, and serves to feed the epidemic.
This is the goal of treatment. When an HIV-positive person is in treatment, the objective is to gradually reduce the amount of virus in their blood to the point where it’s no longer detectable. In Quebec, a viral load of 40 copies per ml is considered undetectable. Anything under this limit is an indication that the disease is less active, thus allowing the immune system to recover, and the person to stay in good health. An undetectable viral load significantly reduces the risk of transmission from a very high risk level, to a very low risk level*.
*According to the INSPQ experts consensus, the risk of transmission from sexual relations without a condom is reduced from a high level to a negligible level when six conditions are met.
MAINS Bas-St-Laurent STRIVING TO INNOVATE NEW APPROACHES
November 25th, 2014
We are constantly questioning our approach, in an effort to ensure that we’re addressing local realities in the most appropriate way possible. Here are two projects, one aimed at prevention, the other at supporting people living with the disease. Both were stand-out projects that experienced great success in the region of Bas-St-Laurent.
Prevention on the big screen
In rural areas, everyone knows everyone, so it’s fairly easy for us to get media collaboration, and in addition, advertising rates are very competitive. This is how we got the idea to run an HIV prevention campaign in the movie theatres. We developed several messages, which were then broadcast alternately in theatres. It’s a seldom-used medium, and yet it’s a perfect way to reach young people, one of our highest priority groups for HIV awareness. Messages were aired over 30 days in December, in every theatre, before every movie (except children’s movies), and reached a captive audience (with no escape!). Theatres are also known to be well-attended in December.
End isolation and bring back smiles
Our territory extends over more than 1,300 kilometres, so we need to get creative to help people living with HIV in our region escape their isolation, in spite of the distances. We’re therefore offering more and more activities that stand out for their scope and originality. For example, we recently organized an outing at an equestrian centre. We rode through the forest on horseback, and then had a picnic. Looking around, there was pure joy in people’s eyes. It was priceless!