Communities make the difference on World AIDS day

Communities make the difference on World AIDS day

This World AIDS Day, 1 December, the theme is ‘Communities make the difference’, in recognition of the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response.

In Myanmar, The Union counts on a vast network of community volunteers who provide support networks and information systems to people needing care for both tuberculosis (TB) and HIV. These trusted members of the communities operate in the areas where The Union’s Integrated HIV Care (IHC) programme is active to bridge the gap between residents and the programme.

Recently, the IHC programme started HIV prevention activities in fourteen townships in three regions and one state, targeting “serodiscordant”, or mixed-status, couples. Community volunteers assist with these prevention activities, which include index testing, a focused activity in which the household, family members (including children) and partners of people diagnosed with HIV are offered HIV testing services.

The community volunteers, many who are living with HIV themselves, work hand-in-hand with the IHC team to provide counselling and testing services. One event held in October 2019, included advocacy meetings to raise HIV awareness among 400 hotel staff in the historic area of Bagan, Myanmar, under the leadership of the National AIDS Programme.

In support of World AIDS Day, The Union Office in Myanmar will host an exhibition showcasing the impact of its work in HIV, and the valuable role the communities play in ensuring that success.

The IHC Programme, which began in 2005, currently provides ART to more than 32,000 people living with HIV across Myanmar, with support from the Global Fund.  The programme’s move into HIV prevention activities is a critical objective of the national strategic plan.