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RAISA YEBO November 2003
Regional AIDS Initiative
of Southern Africa/VSO
November 06, 2003
YEBO is focused on HIV, AIDS and Disability. An area that has been
some what overlooked by many organisations and/or people.
In order to
write this regional overview one of RAISA’s coordinators undertook
a considerable number of searches on the web for HIV & Disability.
Almost nothing came up. This is indicative of the lack of action
around both HIV & Disability as intertwined issues around rights
and discrimination. Since HIV, AIDS and Disability is a "forgotten"
area, RAISA would like to give attention to this matter.
In THE LANCET,
April 26, 2003 it was stated that although AIDS researchers have
studied the disabling effects of HIV/AIDS on previous healthy people,
little attention has been given to the risk of HIV/AIDS for individuals
who have a physical, sensory, intellectual or mental health disability
before becoming infected. It was also stated that it is commonly
assumed that people with disability are not at risk. It is said
that a growing body of research indicates that disabled people are
actually at increased risk for every known risk factor for HIV and
AIDS. (THE LANCET, www.thelancet.com)
to the discrimination that results from disability, what is critical
is not the fact that differential treatment is accorded because
of the difference, but that the criteria used are irrelevant and
cannot justify such differential treatment". U N Commission
on Human Rights Sub Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and
Protection of Minorities statement from UNAIDS.
VSO RAISA is
among the small number of organisations looking at what are the
issues around HIV & Disability frequently leading to double
discrimination. We are committed not only to supporting the development
of and access to materials around HIV & AIDS for people with
disabilities. We are also working with organisations focusing on
disability and HIV & AIDS to bring synergies to their work in
order that people with disabilities are not further discriminated
by actions or neglect.
About 18 months
ago 3 volunteers working in the Disability sector began "Mainstreaming"
HIV and AIDS in their work places. It very quickly became apparent
that the level of knowledge about HIV and AIDS amongst the disabled
community in Namibia was extremely low, that HIV and AIDS material
designed for their specific needs were non-existent and finally that
people with disabilities were
RAISA has published
a report on this conference: HIV& AIDS and Disability,
which can be obtained from your RAISA country coordinator. (Also
available in Braille and on audiotapes).
has given a small grant to the National federation of People with
Disabilities Namibia, The
the Visually Impaired and one for the Federation for the Hearing
Impaired. These grants were used for training workshops and need
assessment studies. RAISA Nambia also sponsored The National Federation
for People with Disabilities Namibia to attend a conference on HIV
and AIDS in Swaziland and a workshop in South Africa. RAISA Namibia
also has a RAISA volunteer working as a HIV/AIDS advisor for the
federation and had another working in the Ministry for Disability.
People with disabilities
lack access to information particularly on HIV and AIDS and this puts
them more at risk. The blind cannot access most of the IEC (Information,
Education and Communication) materials available, and messages from
the electronic media can hardly reach the deaf. And there are few
educational institutions for the disabled. And because of this, people
with disabilities have little or no knowledge about HIV transmission
VSO Malawi has
a disability programme area and has developed partnerships with
Disabled Partner Organisations (DPOs) and placement of volunteer
development workers (VDW) to work with the DPOs in trying to address
the problems that people with disabilities face. As an entry point,
the VDWs are working on capacity building of the DPOs. However,
HIV and AIDS cannot be isolated just as it is in any other VSO's
intervention. One VDW working with the Ministry Responsible for
People with Disabilities as a capacity builder, has managed to secure
funding and embarked on a huge project involving the ministry and
other DPOs which is trying to address the issues of HIV and AIDS
and the related problems. Another volunteer, working as an occupational
therapist, is sensitising fellow members of staff on how they can
disseminate information on HIV and AIDS to people with disabilities
and other beneficiaries.
The RAISA small
grant fund provided funding to the Malawi Union of the Blind for
the production of IEC materials in Braille. It is hoped that this
will increase and improve access of HIV and AIDS information for
the blind. (For more info contact Steve.Tahuna@vsoint.org
VSO RAISA Zimbabwe
works with two partners on disability: The Southern Africa Federation
of the Disabled (SAFOD) and the Zimbabwe Albino Association (Zimas).
The Zimas Intervention Programme acts in the fight against the spread
of HIV&AIDS in women and children with albinism.
rights advocacy is the major activity of Zimas besides providing
sunscreen lotions, spectacles, counselling and training counsellors.
In September 2003 Zimas held a stakeholders’ workshop to plan on
the best way to fight the spread of HIV&AIDS through sexual
abuse of women and children with albinism. The planning workshop
was the first
of a three-year project on preventing the spread of HIV&AIDS
through sexual abuse of women and children with albinism. The workshop
turned out to be an eye opener in more than one way. Participants
exhibited a general understanding of albinism in terms of description
on the physical characteristics although the concept that the condition
was a disability appeared to be new to them.
Some of the
reasons why women and children with albinism were sexually abused
were given out as:
- Society regarded
people with albinism as outcasts therefore easily taken advantage
- Lack of education
- People with
albinism cannot easily marry so they are easily enticed by the
first person that gives them attention
noted that people with albinism particularly women and children
where involved in the planning of the workshop. The participants
felt there was a need for more government involvement in such workshops.
Another outstanding opinion was the general appreciation of the
opportunity to interact with people with albinism and hear from
them the problems they face on a day-to-day basis.
at the workshop have been included in the operational plan for the
three-year project. More workshops are being planned for the near
RAISA has given
Zimas a grant in the last financial year, which was used for advocacy.
Mr. Richard Sibanda, director of Zimas, has attended RAISA’s regional
conference on HIV, AIDS & Men and the regional RAISA 2 planning
Phiri, Secretary General of SAFOD, had attended the conference on
HIV, AIDS & Disability in Namibia on behalf of SAFOD. SAFOD
is a coalition of umbrella organisations in Zimbabwe, Malawi, South
Africa, Swaziland, Namibia and Angola. At the conference Mr. Phiri
shared his thoughts on HIV and Disability in Zimbabwe. Here are
- There is
work being done on People with Disability, but there is no coherent
coordination and enough networking and sharing of resources.
- There is
need for mainstreaming of People with Disability issues in NGO
and government work.
For more info
VSO South Africa
currently doesn’t work directly with any organisations focussing on
disabilities. However one of VSO RAISA South Africa’s partners: the
Human Science Research Council (HSRC) is undertaking research on the
topic. Professor Leslie Swartz (university of Stellenbosch), who is
working for the HSRC, is doing research on HIV& AIDS and Disability
and gave us the following information:
It is well established
from international research that disabled people are at greater
risk than others to sexual abuse, and this may add concomitantly
to risk of HIV infection. Apart from sexual abuse in the community
at large, according to numerous anecdotal reports, disabled people
are at risk for sexual abuse by caregivers both within domestic
situations and within institutional care. Consultations with the
disability sector in South Africa have unearthed stories of people
with disabilities who had been taught nothing about HIV and AIDS,
who had had sexual contact (voluntary or forced) and who became
ill and died without knowing the cause of the illness. Given the
considerable health risks disabled people face, and the probability
that these are even higher than in the general population, there
is an urgent need both for data on what the situation is and for
the development of disability-specific intervention strategies.
There is considerable concern about HIV within the disability sector
in Africa at present, as discussions at the recent Africa Consultative
Conference on Disability showed, but little action.
Next year, The
Human Science Research Council is hoping to organize together with
DICAG (Disabled Children's Action Group) a conference on Disability,
Violence against children and HIV hoping this will be a launch to
a major research/intervention programme.
in South Africa dealing with the disabled is DPSA, Disabled People
South Africa. DPSA was formed in 1984 by disabled people who saw
the need for a representative body to plan and implement programmes
of benefit to disabled people with a members of 150 self help groups/member
organisations, DPSA is the democratic cross-disability umbrella
body of organisations of people with disabilities in South Africa,
recognised as the National Assembly of Disabled People by Disabled
Peoples` International (DPI), which has observer status in the United
Nations. 5 staff members of different offices of DPSA attended the
conference on HIV, AIDS & Disability in Namibia. Among the outcomes
after attending the conference are the networking with colleagues
in Namibia and setting up regional campaigns in South Africa on
HIV&AIDS and Disability.
(For more info
Frans Sijtsma is
a volunteer development worker working with ADEMIMO, the Mozambican
Association of war veterans with disability, in Mozambique. Here follows
I think about disabled people and HIV&AIDS, than I think about
exclusion. Disabled people are excluded from everything. Excluded
from information, education, medical care, jobs, transport. In brief
they are excluded from participating as normal people in the society
of Mozambique. Disabled people belong to the poorest, most vulnerable
and most discriminated of groups.
pandemic is just one of the (major) problems the disabled people
have to face. We can't solve the HIV&AIDS problem if we see
this as an isolated problem. Sexual behaviour has everything to
do with social behaviour, the respect of other people in general
and of women and disabled persons in particular. Disabled persons
have to be considered as full members of society. We have to include
them in the mainstream of social life in Mozambique. This asks for
a change in the attitude of Mozambican people towards disabled people
as well as change in the behaviour of the disabled people themselves.
This is a long-term issue, but it is the best way. We have to work
on this very hard. We, as aid-workers, should make a start in respecting
disabled persons. We can ask them to help us, to help them.
Frans is working
for ADEMIMO organisation of disabled war-veterans in Mozambique.
It represents more than 10,000 disabled people and HIV&AIDS
is one of the issues they are dealing with. ADEMIMO wants to approach
its members about HIV&AIDS through a system of activists. In
every province they currently have 3 activists working with people
with disabilities. However, until now, these activists don't have
access to actual information, and don't have the means to travel.
Other disability-organisations have the same system.
For more info
At the moment in
Zambia there are no volunteer development workers placed at a disabled
RAISA has given
a small grant to DISACARE to hold two radio shows to help raise
the profile of disabled persons in Zambia, as well as create AIDS
awareness. Two programmes were aired on radio Zambia and a lot of
interest was generated. DISACARE compiled a directory of other organisations
that are targeting the disabled for purposes of forming a network.
At the moment DISACARE has been working with RAISA to look at ways
of supporting their planned activities. Contact has been made with
the Copperbelt health organisation project to help DISACARE formulate
an HIV/AIDS policy and Kara Counselling has also been approached
to see how they can help to train DISACARE members in counselling
and peer education.
RAISA has been in contact with the Zambia Association for Children
with Disabilities. Venice Nakawala, project coordinator for the
Livingstone's Zambia Association For Children With Disabilities
spoke with RAISA Zambia to find out if RAISA could link her up with
an organisation that deals with deaf and mute children so that they
could exchange notes on how to provide psychosocial counselling
to a deaf and mute child on HIV/AIDS. Links have been made with
Friends of Magwero, who do similar work in the Eastern Province
and with a child counsellor at Kara Counselling and Training Trust
for ongoing support to the children. As a result of this linkage
the organizations have received a grant from RAISA for training
of parents in counselling skills.
For more info
‘Protect Yourself’ produced by VSO and the British Council in
Ghana is an HIV awareness video produced by and for Deaf people
in Ghana. The rap contains safe sex messages and visuals with
essential information for young people. A booklet of classroom
activities to accompany the video is also available. The video
is available free of charge for educational use. For more details
VSO Namibia has some tapes for the visually impaired on
basic information about HIV& AIDS, these are produced in
several local languages. For more information contact
AIDS and Disability’
National Conference 10-12 June, Windhoek, Namibia)
book/report is also available in Braille and on audio videotapes
the VSO Zimbabwe fact sheet
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