HIV Stigma Toolkit
This is Robert Cohen with the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.
People living with AIDS and the virus that causes it suffer not only from the disease, but also from the stigma linked to AIDS. Stigma means any bad thoughts or acts toward another person that are not based on facts. People have stigmas about H-I-V and AIDS- infected patients for many reasons. The disease is connected to blood, sickness and death. H-I-V is often caused by actions that are not accepted by many religions and communities. These include sexual activities between men and the injection of illegal drugs. Also, people are afraid they will get the virus from being near people who have HIV or AIDS.
Experts have created special programs, campaigns and education tools to stop the stigmatization of people with AIDS.
One group, called the Change Project, has developed teaching information for people at the local level fighting the disease. It is called a "Toolkit for Action."
The toolkit includes fifty-seven teaching exercises that community groups and educators can use to help improve people's knowledge of the disease. The goal is to help people understand stigma, why it is an important issue, what causes stigma, and ways to end the stigmatization of AIDS patients.
The toolkit uses several training methods and materials. For example, many activities involve group discussions and the sharing of ideas, fears and personal experiences. Other activities require people to present information or act out stories in front of other people. There are even exercises that use pictures and songs.
The toolkit has exercises that deal with stigma in different ways. There are activities that teach about caring for HIV-AIDS patients in the family. Other activities teach about stigma faced by children. There are also exercises to teach people about sex, morality and dishonor.
The Change Project created the toolkit with the help of the Academy for Educational Development and the United States Agency for International Development.
It was developed from a three-country research project.
AIDS activists from more than fifty non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia helped write the exercises.
You can get the toolkit from the Change Project's Internet Web site. That address is changeproject.org. Changeproject is all one word.
This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Jill Moss. This is Robert Cohen.