To address the HIV/AIDS pandemic, communities need access to prevention information, medicine, and care – along with nutrition, clean water, sanitation, education, economic opportunities, productive agricultural systems, reliable roads, and a strong voice in how they are governed. IRD views the needs of communities from the perspective of those who live there: we work with local stakeholders to identify and prioritize their urgent health and development needs and seek ways to address them simultaneously.
The 2012 International AIDS Conference
This week IRD is participating in the 2012 International AIDS Conference with presentations on our programs to fight stigma in Ukraine and to provide women in Mozambique with livelihood opportunities and a means of sharing health information with their peers. Last week IRD sponsored an exhibit of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.
IRD Senior Technical Advisor Adora Iris Lee, who has been at the forefront of the response to HIV/AIDS for over two decades, sent us this videomessage about what IRD is doing at the AIDS conference next week.
How IRD Is Making a World of Difference for Communities Affected by HIV/AIDS
Agriculture: Hunger is intrinsically connected to HIV/AIDS, as many poor families suffer when their primary income earner is affected by the disease. Job scarcity and decreasing productivity due to HIV/AIDS increase the need for innovative approaches and sustainable farming practices to ensure that families have access to diverse and nutrient-rich food sources. IRD helps farmers and families in various countries to increase yields while simultaneously promoting diversification in cultivation, leading to increased food security and improved nutritional status for families affected by HIV/AIDS. Promotion of conservation agriculture also supports better use of water resources and builds resiliency to drought.
Nutrition: HIV-positive individuals have additional nutrition requirements to maintain strength and ensure effectiveness of antiretrovirals and other medications. IRD empowers families and communities in Mozambique, Cambodia, and elsewhere to improve their nutrition by teaching individuals how to choose and grow more nutritious foods, providing nutritionally fortified foods, and facilitating food distribution programs through local networks.
Stigma & Discrimination: A critical issue that continues to slow the fight against AIDS is stigma and discrimination. One of IRD’s flagship projects, implemented from 2004 to 2008, aimed to create an environment where at least 80 percent of the population in two regions of Ukraine had accepting attitudes toward people living with HIV/AIDS. The Reducing the Stigma and Discrimination Associated with HIV and AIDS (RSAD) program mobilized a network of peer educators, lawyers and attorneys, and the media to fight stigma and discrimination, increase awareness of HIV/AIDS related issues, and develop tolerant attitudes, compassion, and support for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Prevention & Care: IRD integrates evidence-based HIV prevention and care interventions into its programs in HIV/AIDS-affected communities. We have used peer-based educational entertainment interventions in Iraq, Indonesia, Serbia, and Ukraine. In Mozambique, the Women First project trains women to disseminate prevention messages to their peers. And ESOCUIDA, also in Mozambique, trains local organizations to provide home-based care, improve nutrition, advocate against stigma, and improve their financial management and leadership. By improving organizations’ capacity to deliver services and their finances, IRD helps ensure the sustainability of care for those who need it most.
Water, Hygiene & Sanitation: Waterborne illness and lack of access to clean water and sanitation present a particular threat to the health of people living with HIV/AIDS. IRD helps vulnerable people in countries hit hard by HIV/AIDS such as Swaziland and Mozambique. We construct rainwater collection facilities, boreholes, and latrines, we distribute tools, and we offer training in hygiene and sanitation to reduce the risk of diarrheal diseases and cholera.
Infrastructure: Access to well-stocked and well-equipped health clinics is clearly essential for families affected by HIV/AIDS. IRD’s infrastructure team works with local governments in countries like Ethiopia, Georgia, Ukraine, Indonesia, South Sudan, and Mozambique to rehabilitate existing healthcare facilities, train staff, and provide pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and supplies.
Economic Strengthening & Livelihoods: Poverty threatens the efficacy of HIV care and treatment, as families are often forced to choose between paying for medication, sending their children to school, or keeping land and tools. Poverty also increases the spread of HIV by creating the need to leave home for work or engage in transactional sex. IRD combats poverty by working with local people and organizations in Ethiopia, Swaziland, and Mozambique to provide safe economic opportunities for families affected by HIV. For example, in the Women First program in Mozambique, women sell in-demand household goods and educate their communities on HIV prevention and other health concerns.
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Through the ESOCUIDA project (the Portuguese acronym for Empowerment of Civil Socie... more