Stigma Reduction and Empowerment Building through HIV Peer Education Programs in Eastern Africa

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Michele COMPANION, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, USA
As HIV/AIDS continues to dominate health discussions across the globe, unique, community-based responses to combat its spread have been generated through local initiatives. Programs designed to promote education, dialogue, and reduce stigma surrounding HIV testing, status, prevention, and treatment have been implemented. “Reach A Hand, Uganda” has worked with community and international partners to create the “IKnow” concert series and the Peer Education Academy. In South Africa, the “Know Your Status” campaign has promoted HIV testing, treatment options, and prevention. In Mozambique and Malawi, local coordinating committees have created educational skits about transmission and prevention strategies, as well as unique responses to the growing numbers of AIDS orphans. These locally generated initiatives provide culturally appropriate vehicles to reach broader population bases, resulting in effective programmatic responses and social challenges to risky cultural traditions. This presentation will review components of these local initiatives and present evidence of their impacts, including increases in testing, individual and community empowerment, and the reduction of stigma. Drawing on “best practices” models, recommendations will be made for expansion and refinement of central elements of these approaches for broader implementation in a variety of global contexts.