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 Sunday 28 June 2009
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MOZAMBIQUE: Face to face HIV prevention

Photo: André Catueira/PlusNews
Troop commanders are trained to carry out HIV tests
ESPUNGABERA, 24 June 2009 (PlusNews) - Eurico Jero, 31, opens his satchel and takes out condoms to distribute to the crowd at a rally in Espungabera, a city of some 27,000 in Mozambique's central region, and the capital of Mossurize district. "When crowds gather, people, especially young people, meet up with each other and anything can happen."

Jero is a "troop commander" – a title given to a group of young activists working with Development Aid from People to People (known by the Portuguese-language acronym ADPP), a Mozambican NGO affiliated to Humana People to People, an international development network.

ADPP is implementing the Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE) programme, created by Humana and being rolled out across sub-Saharan Africa, where it has so far reached eight million people in Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Guinea Bissau. It was launched in Mozambique in 2000.

TCE hopes to make people aware of their power to control the AIDS epidemic, based on the principle that "Only people can free themselves from HIV/AIDS". It not only disseminates information about HIV, but also encourages people to establish HIV clubs in schools and communities, and promotes positive living for HIV-positive people.

Home testing

Troop commanders are trained to carry out HIV tests and send the blood samples to public hospitals for analysis. "We have penetrated into some of the most isolated communities, where the population has no access to health services. There, we provide local assistance to those interesting in taking the HIV test," said Paris Paulino, a commander in Mossurize.

Between 2000 and 2008 the programme reached more than two million people in Mozambique and distributed five million condoms; by 2010 it intends reaching more than 10 million – almost half the population of 21.8 million.

TCE made its way into the central region in 2007, and by February 2009 almost 500,000 people in Mossurize had come into contact with the programme - over 12,000 had taken the free, voluntary HIV test.

"The results obtained mean that it has encompassed a good portion of the population; people are using condoms more, take the test more, and participate in more of the seminars developed by the group in the communities," said Paulino.

''I never imagined that one day we would be able to sit men and women down to talk about sex openly. Local habits and customs wouldn't have permitted it''
Face-to-face prevention

The programme takes a systematic approach to disseminating HIV/AIDS messages, with each person seen face to face in educational campaigns featuring half-hour classes.

"Contact takes place in their homes ... which eliminates travel obstacles, so they have every chance to learn in the best possible way, without having to be afraid of asking."

Each TCE ground official is responsible for providing 2,000 people - about 350 families - with information on HIV in a given geographic area during the initiative's three-year duration.

The success of the teaching is evaluated using the Perpendicular Estimate System, which monitors the effectiveness of the lessons about the disease. In 2008, 6,562 classes were given to a total of 121,562 people in Mossurize district.

"I learned all of the risks. I've taken the test and I insist on condoms to have sex, even with my husband," said Chica Taunde, 23, a beneficiary with a grade two education.

Awakening passions

The TCE initiative also includes training for "passionate volunteers", who help manage small income-generating projects. "We create conditions so that orphans and people living with HIV/AIDS, especially those who are undernourished, can get nutritional support," said Paulino.

"So that they do not become dependent on our initiative, we help them to develop their own incomes through small projects in the areas of agriculture, animal-raising and even fish-farming." There are 1,066 "passionate volunteers" in Mossurize, helping various communities and needy individuals.

"I think there are still people who are ignorant regarding HIV/AIDS, but ... [not] because of a lack of access to information," said Taunde. "I never imagined that one day we would be able to sit men and women down to talk about sex openly. Local habits and customs wouldn't have permitted it."


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), (PLUSNEWS) Prevention - PlusNews


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