MOZAMBIQUE: Civil servants hard hit by HIV/AIDS

Photo: Allan Gichigi/IRIN
Stigma remains a major problem
BEIRA, 17 June 2009 (PlusNews) - Nearly 20 percent of Mozambique's civil servants are HIV positive, but given that several government ministries lack reliable data, this number could even be higher, a study has warned.

According to a Demographic Impact Study by the government, around 19.2 percent of 167,420 public employees were found to be HIV positive, which is higher than the national prevalence rate of 16 percent.

Moreover, Célia Matavele, national coordinator of the Ministry of Public Employment's Nucleus for the Fight against HIV/AIDS, believes some public employees are not revealing their HIV-positive status, and so were not detected by the Demographic Impact Study, which collected data from the health facilities where they receive care.

To reduce HIV infection among public employees, the Ministry of Public Employment, in partnership with the National Council for the Fight against HIV/AIDS and the Ministry of Health, is designing a strategy for prevention, counselling, testing, treatment and anti-discrimination.

Matavele said one of the biggest obstacles to fighting the disease was the stigma attached to it, because many HIV-positive employees "do not publicly admit their status out of fear that they might be discriminated against by their colleagues."

Good intentions

Manecas Chambiro*, 42, a professor at Samora Moisés Machel Pre-University School in Beira, in Sofala Province, central Mozambique, said he had been on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment since early 2008; if he hadn't received psychological support from the school administration and his family, he would have committed suicide as a result of the discrimination he experienced from his work colleagues.

"My colleagues ignore me; they don't talk to me anymore. Whenever I come across them in the halls, chatting, they break up their circle and each one goes his own way," said Chambiro.

"Stigma and discrimination are a serious matter in the school where I teach ... to get away from that environment, I thought about requesting a transfer."

Matavele stressed that the government would not tolerate stigma and discrimination against people living with the virus. "In the state institutions, the stigma is an interpersonal and not an institutional issue. No employee has ever lost his or her job for being HIV positive."


*not his real name

Theme (s): Care/Treatment - PlusNews, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), Prevention - PlusNews, Stigma/Human Rights/Law - PlusNews,

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

Other OCHA Sites
United Nations - OCHA
DFID - UK Department for International Development
Irish Aid
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation - SDC