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.
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.