HIV AND AIDS Prevention, Care and Support Programme

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Program Background

HIV is a viral infection and medically speaking AIDS is the consequence of a viral infection. However, the issues raised by the epidemic are far from purely medical or clinical. They touch on cultural norms and practices, issues of gender, human responsibility, poverty and sexuality.

Now in its third decade, the epidemic has claimed many lives. In Ghana, many people have been infected with HIV since it was first diagnosed in the country in 1986 and recorded by the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP). Behind every statistics is an individual and behind every individual is a network of relationships-family and community. Whether measured against the yardstick of deteriorating child survival, crumbling life expectancy, overburdened health care-system, increasing orphan hood, or bottom-line losses to business, AIDS has never posed a bigger threat to development than now.

Managing the challenges of HIV/AIDS such as orphans care is increasingly becoming a challenge because of the inability of the extended family system to play its traditional role of providing for their survival and development needs. Orphans and vulnerable children as well as persons living with HIV and AIDS, need social protection and support services within a framework that is integrated and focus on the family and linkages to other livelihoods that are sustainable and equitable.

Prevention,Care and Support are mutually reinforcing. This program therefore aim among others to provide education and livelihood skills opportunities to comprehensively address the increasing impact of HIV on women, children and the youth both in terms of their greater risk to exposure, increasing negative impact on their lives and how best families, communities and groups can respond to the challenges.

Center for Development Initiatives trust in HIV/AIDS is, addressing the social, cultural and gender issues underlying the global and national HIV epidemic.

HIV/AIDS in Ghana as in other parts of Sub-Saharan countries is a problem of poverty and unequal power relationships;  gender inequality; a pandemic that travels with human trafficking and migrant labor; and a pandemic that strikes hardest against those that cannot afford any form of treatment. At CDI, we see this as a symptom of social and economic injustice that should be combatted appropriately. It is not just about changing individual behavior, encouraging people to use condoms or abstaining from sex even though these are important.

We support and undertake outreach campaigns targeted at existing social grouping including in the informal sector which is dominated by women. We encourage and support those who are living with the condition as the best resource persons to lead prevention and care and support activities because no one can tell it better than those who are living with it. This is proving effective in dealing even with stigma and discrimination. Where HIV/AIDS related stigma exists, those living with the condition and the rest of society are not helped much. People become afraid to be open and honest about their HIV status. In this regard, voluntary counseling and concern to be tested (VCCT) a mainstreamed activities in our HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Support Program. VCCT provide people an opportunity to learn and accept their test result in a confidential environment with counseling and referral for on-going psychosocial and medical support for those who test positive for the HIV anti-bodies.

The provision of care and support to those infected and affected such as orphans is of critical importance in the design of our HIV/AIDS program. In our work, we have come to a realization that, care and support is more than treatment; it includes the physical, emotional and environmental issues confronted by the infected and affected. Drugs are expensive, and do not work forever while the physical care needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS( PLHIV) are more as AIDS progresses. Poverty for example, has been found to influence disease presentation and quality of care. Thus meeting their material and psychosocial needs are as important as the medical ones.

We facilitate and support the formation of support groups as well as help them build capacities and other problem-solving and coping capacities. This has become indispensable because of social changes that has impacted and strained the extended family capacity to provide the needed support.

Care and Support
The provision of care and support to those infected and affected such as orphans is of critical importance in the design of our HIV/AIDS program. In our work, we have come to a realization that, care and support is more than treatment; it includes the physical, emotional and environmental issues confronted by the infected and affected. Drugs are expensive, and do not work forever while the physical care needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS( PLHIV) are more as AIDS progresses. Poverty for example, has been found to influence disease presentation and quality of care. Thus meeting their material and psychosocial needs are as important as the medical ones.

We facilitate and support the formation of support groups as well as help them build capacities and other problem-solving and coping capacities. This has become indispensable because of social changes that has impacted and strained the extended family capacity to provide the needed support.

Our care and support programme is focused on Northern Ghana, areas of the country that do not have the same access to services as people in other areas in the country. It takes into accounts National, Regional, Religious and Demographic differences in the nature and scope of the problem as well as the medical aspects of the illness for the infected and their social networks. The aim is to improve the nutrition and health status of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) through:

  • Emergency, food basket schemes,
  • Funding support to pay for life saving drugs and access to basic health services such as the treatment of opportunistic infections as covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)
  • Facilitate the formation and build the capacity of support groups in self-help management, positive living strategies and other basic care and support pre-requisites.
  • Build the capacities of care givers, families and communities as a sustainable way of dealing with the orphans and vulnerable crisis

Research has found that many PLHIV are unaware that there are others just like them living with the virus. Learning that others are experiencing the same things, have had the same feelings, and are dealing with the same realities on daily basis can be very effective in decreasing PLHIV sense of isolation and hopelessness. By hearing about other PLHIV experiences and sharing their own, group members may also be able to think about alternatives to their situations.

Through the support groups, members are often relieved to discover that their reactions to their diagnosis, are "normal" for their situations, and that others also feel afraid, helpless, angry, guilty, ashamed, and responsible for their condition.

AIDs Impact Model, 2004
Source: AIDs Impact Model, 2004