IRD Experts Present at 2012 International AIDS Conference
“When it comes to HIV/AIDS, the only acceptable intolerance is for the suffering of fellow citizens,” said IRD Ukraine Country Director Oksana Mikitenko, who presented details of the Reducing the Stigma and Discrimination Associated with HIV and AIDS Program (RSAD) in Ukraine at the International AIDS Conference 2012 July 26. “RSAD and other programs to reduce stigma and discrimination are important to any comprehensive program to overcome HIV/AIDS and its devastating personal, social, and economic effects,” she added.
Mikitenko discussed RSAD’s successes in Ukraine and its relevance for expanded anti-discrimination efforts in light of a recent legislative bill introduced in parliament, which would impose a prison term of up to five years and unspecified fines for spreading "propaganda of homosexuality" – defined as positive depiction of gays in Ukrainian public life.
RSAD was designed to counter such stigmatization. Funded by USAID, the program was implemented in 10 administrative units of Donetsk oblast and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Working with community groups, RSAD used a peer education methodology to build the knowledge and capacity of over 15,000 peer educators to conduct culturally appropriate community-based education sessions. Peer educators visited educational, health, social institutions, and workplaces to provide information about HIV/AIDS, including the issues of stigma and discrimination.
IRD Mozambique Program Manager Tiffany Myers also presented details of another successful USAID-funded program aimed at addressing HIV/AIDS: Women First. She described the health promotion and economic development dimensions of the project in the Global Village Networking Zone July 25. “Preventing HIV/AIDS requires a holistic approach to family and community life,” Myers said. “Women First is an example of how knowledge and economic opportunity give women power to better control their lives and their health.”
Since its start in 2005, Women First has trained hundreds of female entrepreneurs who sell basic household goods to thousands of households. The average participant sells $115 of goods per month, with a profit of $16. Profits are used primarily to provide school supplies to children and to purchase more healthful foods. Sixty-nine percent of Women First graduates continue to sell products and build their sales networks.
Women First is funded by USAID and implemented by IRD in partnership with World Vision. RSAD was implemented by IRD from 2004 to 2008 with funding from USAID.