MALI: Gundo-So – The circle of trust


– MALI –
February 18th, 2015

© Harandane DICKO for the Fondation de France

Malian women living with HIV are at particular risk of stigmatization, divorce, repudiation, having their children taken from them, or simply being abandoned. This is because they are often completely dependent on their husbands, both economically and socially. In this context, the decision of whether or not to disclose their HIV positive status can be a dangerous one which can carry serious consequences. The circle of trust, or Gundo-So in Bambara, is a community program created specifically for these women, to give them the tools to make smart, well-thought-out decisions on the subject.

The program involves an assessment interview, as well as ten weekly meetings and an optional group session. Many of the tools used are distinctly born of Malian culture, from stones to estimate the weight of the secret, to wooden sticks to measure the pros and cons of disclosure, etc. Testimonials from women who’ve been through the program make it clear: the impact has been very positive. The program was launched in 2010 by ARCAD-SIDA (the Malian member of Coalition PLUS), and has been implemented in six centres in Bamako, and one in the Kayes region, in the west of the country.

Learn more about Gundo-So





December 20th, 2018

November 29th, the city of Montreal officially presented the common action plan for Montreal without AIDS.

The initiative, which brings together public services, the City of Montreal, community organizations, and health services, is in line with UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 targets.

One of the members of our Board of Directors, Ken Monteith, is also taking part in this initiative. We are thrilled for the plan to be rolled out.

The action plan is structured through 4 strategic initiatives:

  • Reduce stigmatization and discrimination through communication
  • Work to eradicate prejudices caused by the enforcement of criminal laws
  • Improve the living conditions of vulnerable communities
  • Implement services that are accessible and adapted to individual needs


Mali – Your monthly support is essential to ARCAD/SIDA


– MALI –
October 8th, 2012

MaliARCAD/SIDA was one of the first HIV/AIDS associations in Mali. It was created in 1994 to develop a global approach to managing the spread of HIV by improving access to care and treatment, and prioritizing research and communication. As a co-founder and member organization of Coalition PLUS, the association fights primarily for human rights and access to care and treatment for everyone. Their method is based in community action, and they focus on the inclusion of people infected with or affected by HIV in the development and execution of their programs and strategies.

A critical situation
Six months after a coup by a group of armed extremists “sowing terror,” according to Human Rights Watch, northern Mali is in the midst of a major crisis. Dr. Bintou Dembélé, Director of ARCAD/SIDA, is sounding the alarm about the dramatic health situation her country has been plunged into. In the Centre de soins, d’animation et de conseils (Cesac) in Bamako where the organization works to provide services to over 5000 infected people, funds are sorely lacking. In Bamako, the facility is open, but the patients are not coming. “Some people are scared to leave their homes. Others can’t go anywhere because of fuel shortages.” Their access to antiviral medication is also threatened. “We import antiviral medication from India, but if the fuel shortages continue, air ties will be cut. This is basic care, without which all our efforts will be for naught.”

In the northern region, held by rebels, the situation is even more serious. According to the news and information website Mali Actualités, 600 people with AIDS fled the Islamist rebels, and are now lost in the wilderness with no access to treatment. Political instability in the occupied zones has badly affected health services and caused a dispersal of medical staff, whose lives have been endangered by the theft and massive destruction by the rebels of the medication and equipment, which are critical for treating patients.

Mali: Night clinic at ARCAD/SIDA


October 9th, 2011

Dr. Alou Coulibaly saw the project take shape. He works every night at the night clinic. In the first 3 months of operation, he screened more than 700 sex workers, clients, and MSM.

In August 2010, the association opened a night clinic in Les Halles district of Bamako, known for its bus station, shopping center, nightclubs and brothels. Every day, the clinic welcomes vulnerable populations who come to learn about HIV transmission, get tested or receive treatment.

The ARCAD/SIDA care centers see over one hundred patients daily and provide more than 7000 people with antiretroviral treatment. They offer numerous other services such as access to counselling, testing, medical care, psychosocial support, training, research, and prevention.

However, offering support to vulnerable populations such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers has always been a challenge since they live and work mostly at night and cannot visit the center during the day.

Therefore, the idea of creating a facility that would be open when standard centers of care were closed was born. Once a week, each group (MSM, sex workers and the public) can enjoy a privileged moment to exchange with health care workers on the promotion of safer sex.

The clinic offers voluntary testing and, if the result is positive for HIV, delivers a comprehensive care package. The doors are open from 4:00 pm to midnight daily except Monday. The prevalence of risk groups is very high and people who are getting tested usually have no symptoms.

Also, night outreach activities in the neighbourhood and in brothels are used to connect MSM and sex workers to the clinic.

The organizations in Africa


July 2nd, 2010


Morocco: ALCS
ALCS, the first association formed to fight AIDS in the Maghreb and the Middle East, was founded in February 1988. ALCS carries out prevention activities and cares for people living with HIV/AIDS. It also defends the rights of the most vulnerable groups (male and female sex workers, migrants, prisoners, truck drivers, and drug users).

Democratic Republic of Congo: ACS/AMO-Congo
ACS/AMO-Congo is the first medical care management structure in the country. Thousands of AIDS orphans are supported by the Association. It also provides numerous community support services to people living with HIV/AIDS and those affected by HIV.

Burundi: ANSS
ANSS, the national association supporting people who are HIV-positive and living with AIDS is one of the first associations to combat AIDS in Burundi. Since 1993, it has been providing voluntary and free screening, clinical and psychosocial care management, and material and financial assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Founded in Mali in September 1994, ARCAD/SIDA is an association that carries out research and provides home care to people living with HIV/AIDS. Tens of thousands of people affected are monitored at the association’s centres, where they benefit from free global healthcare, including antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. ARCAD/SIDA was also one of the first African associations to have set up a program to provide gay Malians with access to means of prevention and care.

Burkina Faso: REVS+
Created in 1997, REVS+ is one of the first Burkinabé associations in the fight against HIV/AIDS, in particular, through the global management of care of people living with HIV/AIDS. REVS+ has the objective of assuring the health and social and economic well-being of its members and the general public, in terms of sustained human development in the context of HIV/AIDS.