The consequences of experiencing stigma and discrimination while living with HIV can be profound. This World Health Day, we take a closer look at how we’re working to support the wider wellbeing – not just the physical health – of people living with HIV, and how we work with communities to combat misinformation and prejudice.
Counselling and Testing
A lack of support for people living with HIV in Nkhata Bay North has contributed to the local HIV prevalence rate rising here to 14%, while the national prevalence stands lower at 10%. Through our Mobile Voluntary Counselling and Testing initiative, we’ve helped to establish greater awareness of the importance of regular testing.
There are only four health clinics in the entire Nkhata Bay North district – for people living in the remotest villages, this means a walk to the nearest medical facility can take up to nine hours. Our mobile testing units are able to tackle the region’s tough terrain and reach remote communities who would otherwise receive little external support. In 2017, we plan to establish 15 testing clinics throughout the district.
HIV support groups
Members of our HIV support groups learn about ways to support their wellbeing through advice on nutrition and life skills, in addition to practical information on treatment and medication. The groups also provide a forum within the community for people living with HIV to speak openly about their experiences.
In some communities, we also facilitate Teen Clubs for HIV-positive 15-25 year olds, where practical advice is combined with engagement activities like drama, creating a positive and open environment where young people can feel comfortable and draw emotional support from one another.
Pyness, for example, joined a Teen Club while caring for her young daughter. As well as providing her with an invaluable peer support network, the club taught Pyness how to cultivate vegetables in a small plot near her home, so improving her nutrition and overall health. Maintaining a healthy diet is particularly important for HIV-positive people, as it helps medication work effectively. Now, Pyness rarely becomes ill.
Help us support more people’s wellbeing!
We’re only able to tackle the interlinked issues of physical health and overall wellbeing through your continued support: donate today or help make even more of a difference by taking on a sponsored challenge for us.