"); NewWindow.document.close(); return false; }

Swazis strengthen efforts to fight HIV/AIDS stigma
Wednesday 15 December 2004
Home About PlusNews Country Profiles News Briefs Special Reports Subscribe Archive IRINnews


East Africa
Great Lakes
Horn of Africa
Southern Africa
·South Africa
West Africa
RSS - News Briefs


PlusNews E-mail Subscription

SWAZILAND: Swazis strengthen efforts to fight HIV/AIDS stigma

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

MBABANE, 19 November (PLUSNEWS) - Shame was replaced by solidarity at the launch of an umbrella body of organisations of Swazis living with HIV/AIDS this week.

The Swaziland National Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (SWANNEPHA), comprising 46 organisations with memberships ranging from a handful to over 1,400, aims to reduce stigma and discrimination and "build a positive image of people living with HIV and AIDS".

SWANNEPHA's role will be to strengthen the capacity of officials in the affiliated organisations, and facilitate the coordination and sharing of experiences and best practices among people living with HIV and AIDS.

The federation will mobilise the participation of people living with HIV and AIDS in the national response to the disease, and act as an information clearing house.

The launch of SWANNEPHA was recommended by the National Emergency Response Committee on HIV/AIDS, which disperses funds from government, private donors and the Global Fund Against HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, to AIDS groups.

A study conducted by the committee last year to identify HIV/AIDS support groups found that "most of them are very new, with no formal leadership structures and a small proportion of people who are open about their HIV positive status."

The report recommended the establishment of a support group mother body, "to unify and strengthen the contribution and voice of people living with HIV/AIDS in the national response to HIV/AIDS".

"We are no longer afraid. There is strength in numbers and, unfortunately, there are now just so many people living with the disease," said AIDS activist Vusi Matsebula, who was elected chairperson of SWANNEPHA.

Matsebula was one of the first Swazis to publicly acknowledge his HIV positive status. As a founding member of the Swaziland AIDS Support Organisation (SASO), the first such group in the country, he campaigned against discrimination towards people living with HIV and AIDS, and championed the cause of antiretroviral drugs against initial health ministry opposition.

"It has always been a hard battle for people to wake up to the AIDS dilemma, and not ostracise people with HIV," said Hannie Dlamini, also a SASO founder member.

Another key organisation affiliated with the new umbrella body is the Swaziland Women's Association for Positive Living.

Sipiwe Hlope, a founder member of the HIV-positive women's group, said, "There is a happy spirit among those of us who feel we should not be shoved aside because we have become infected. Positive living prolongs lives: it is in your attitude and the way you treat your body, and look after your physical and mental health. All of us together can exchange notes about new treatments; we can lobby the health ministry better if we are unified."


Recent SWAZILAND Reports
Construction declines as impact of HIV/AIDS builds up,  5/Nov/04
Men urged to take more responsibility in curbing HIV/AIDS,  7/Oct/04
Grassroots approach to orphan care,  22/Sep/04
Holistic approach to combating HIV/AIDS,  8/Sep/04
New survey shows much lower HIV infection among youth,  27/Aug/04
AIDS Media Center
VIH Internet
Sida Info Services
Le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le SIDA, la tuberculose et le paludisme

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

[Back] [Home Page]

Click to send any feedback, comments or questions you have about IRIN's Website or if you prefer you can send an Email to

The material contained on this Web site comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post any item on this site, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All graphics and Images on this site may not be re-produced without the express permission of the original owner. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004