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Positive Support Group, reaching out to many
Samuel Matsikure, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)
Extracted from Galzette, January 2008
support group was formed after well-known members from the gay society
in the early 90s were succumbing to HIV complications. This jolted
the community from their party, carefree world and to take note
of the seriousness of HIV/AIDS. Contributing to the deaths of most
gay men were denial of status, ignorance about the virus coupled
by stigma, discrimination, homophobia by family members and society.
Family members neglected them in their time of need, hence they
had no support and care
Faced with such
a daunting situation, Galz volunteers and Counselors teamed up to
organise themselves so as to provide home based care, pre, post
test counselling and on-going counselling for members who had disclosed
their status to the counselors within the organisation. Support
when one was sick at home, in hospital or when they were bed-ridden
being the focal point of the support group
the past years our counselling services have improved. Members are
provided with more information on HIV/ AIDS gathered through discussion
forums, conferences, workshops and the Internet. We have also been
able to explore the possibilities of learning more on home based
care, treatment, prevention, positive living (body, soul and mind
and nutrition for the survival of the member. The message: 'HIV
is death' changed to: 'Healthy living and long time
survival of people living with HIV'.
the group who are living positively with HIV attitudes and sexual
behavior changing. Group members have managed to educate the gay
community affiliated to Galz not to stigmatise and discriminate
those that are HIV positive within the gay and lesbian community
and outside. A few members who have been bed-ridden before the support
group and knew of their condition were able to get care and treatment
and are good testimonies of how the support group has assisted.
The group has a herbal garden to help boost the immune system and
fight other illnesses for a healthy living. They meet every two
months for group discussions and also with the rest of Galz membership.
Affinity groups have also benefited from the influence of the group
and gained support through positive living information and testimonies
from those living and affected with HIV/AIDS. The support group
is there to embrace any Galz member whether one is positive or negative,
disclosed their status or not.
The group took
many years to build owing to leadership problems and lack of commitment
by some members. Maintaining confidentiality among the group members
on one's status was a thorn issues for those within and outside
the group. This hindered many from joining or disclosing their status
so as to seek assistance. However this has since been rectified
as we have some qualified and ethical counselors in the group. Calendar
activities were at times neglected as members within the group lacked
commitment and had no volunteer spirit. Members took time to realise
the importance of teamwork to maintain the group's survival.
Lack of enough funds for volunteer work and meetings was another
of the group structure as present leadership is on temporary after
the previous leadership left the positions. There will be training
of members in Home based care. We hope to mobilize more resources
for prevention, care, support and treatment for all Galz members
Positive Image scheme
This is a financial
support scheme for Galz members who are HIV positive and have disclosed
their status to the Health Department under confidentiality. This
also covers the General medical aid +CD with CIMAS for those who
are not on any medical aid from their employer or family. This is
many for those who identify as other than Heterosexual within Galz.
Members who are interested in joining the scheme can get in touch
with The Health Department, which will under their own discretion
assess the cases and give the final decision. Every HIV positive
member within the organisation is entitled to access treatment without
is a unique scheme. There are no adequate funds to sustain it. This
scheme was an initiative of a well wisher committed to the survival
of Galz members infected with HIV. With the increasing demand for
drugs lately and the escalating cost of purchasing medication, we
are faced with a major challenge to mobilise resources to save more
from the USA has managed to relieve the pressure on the little funds
we have in Positive Image by supplying seven of our members with
ARVs and Vitamins every three months. We have managed to provide
ARVs, vitamins and food packages to those in dire need. The organisation
has also managed to maintain the CIMAS medical aid scheme for those
who require treatment.
Feel free to
join the Positive Image Group. Anyone can join we are all affected
by HIV/AIDS and it's up to us to take the leadership role
in this fight.
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