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SAfAIDS Regional Resource Centre: the foremost HIV/AIDS information resource in Zimbabwe
Taurai Maduna, Kubatana.net
January 24, 2006

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SAfAIDS Regional Resource Centre in HarareWho was the first person in Zimbabwe to go public about their HIV status? Are you interested in finding out how the Zimbabwean media has been covering HIV/AIDS issues since the 80's? Whatever your question is, as long as it's about HIV/AIDS you will find the answer at Zimbabwe's foremost information resource centre on HIV/AIDS.

Located in Avondale in Harare, the Southern Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS) Regional Resource Centre boasts a bibliographic database with over 10 000 indexed publications, books, journals, research reports, manuals and conference papers.

The resource centre also has a wide range of multimedia resources, which include CD-ROM databases with full text documents and abstracts, and a collection of videos that cover the whole collection of STEPS For The Future, a collection of unusual stories of individuals who are confronting their lives in a society that is changing under the impact of HIV/AIDS.

Children's CornerEveryone is catered for at the SAfAIDS Regional Resource Centre. Parents can even bring their children to the Children's Corner which has literature about HIV/AIDS written specifically for children.

According to Juliet Mkaronda, SAfAIDS Regional Resource Centre Coordinator, the resource centre is a one-stop shop for all the information you need on HIV/AIDS. Ms Mkaronda adds that the walk-in centre caters for people of all ages and the information is not only about Zimbabwe but also includes global developments in HIV/AIDS - listen to audio file

The centre is also pro-actively involved in disseminating new information to various stakeholders via an email newsletter, over the phone and through their website. The centre houses an immaculate Internet room with four computers. This service is offered at a nominal fee.

SAfAIDS internet roomMs Mkaronda said, "we do not wait for our users to come to the resource centre to get information, we disseminate information to our partners without them having to ask for the information." Joshua Chigodora an officer from the centre says that the centre also targets partner institutions, programme officers, policy makers, researchers and students.

When asked what kind of information people are looking for, Ms Mkaronda said that she had seen some changes in the type of information being requested over the years. "6 years ago people would walk into the centre requesting information on prevention but today the requests revolve around access to treatment. People want to know statistics for the region and how far progressed Zimbabwe is in terms of treatment," said Ms Mkaronda.

SAfAIDS has made access to information on HIV/AIDS easier not only for Zimbabweans but for people in the region. In 2005 SAfAIDS launched resource centres in other Southern African countries including Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Malawi. These satellite resource centres have been set up along the model of the main centre in Harare.

Juliet MkarondaWhile information on HIV/AIDS is more easily available, the major drawback is that this information is mostly available in English. "We do have some material in local languages but I must admit that it is very limited" said Mr Chigodora. In an effort to generate more local content in Shona and Ndebele, SAfAIDS is looking at working with local partners to establish information kiosks that will be responsible for finding and generating local content in local languages that in turn will be supplied to the main centre. A project for repackaging content in Shona and Ndebele is on the cards with partner organisations that work at grassroots level - listen to audio file.

Video collectionThe SAfAIDS Regional Resource Centre has created an extensive network of partners, academic institutions and individuals over the years that assist in supplying information on the latest developments in HIV/AIDS. Mr Chigodora adds that Internet discussion forums are a valuable source of new information.

The SAfAIDS Regional Resource Centre does not lend out books, videos or journals. However, people are allowed to make photocopies at a minimal charge. Videos can only be viewed in the video room.

It is time you made your way to the SAfAIDS Regional Resource Centre - it is one place were you will not be advised that the book or video you are looking for is out of the library!

The SAfAIDS Regional Resource Centre is located 17 Beveridge Rd, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe. It is open from 8am - 430pm, Monday to Friday.

For more information visit the SAfAIDS website www.safaids.org.zw

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