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Reaching Across the Border to prevent HIV and AIDS

Introduction:

The Cross-Border HIV and AIDS Prevention Program has been implemented since 2012 with support from Sansthagat Bikas Sanjal, MCC Nepal. It was implemented in Manahari, Basamadi and Bhainse Village Development Committees and Hetauda Municipality of Makawanpur district.

Makawanpur is a prime district of migrant workers. The risk, vulnerability of HIV and AIDS has increased to quite high level because of unsafe sex behavior of the migrant workers due to the lack of awareness and resources.

Activities:

The project consisted of the following thematic topics under the Cross-Border HIV and AIDS Prevntion Program covering one year:

  1. Conduction of School HIV Awareness: Special sessions on awareness raising were carried out at schools of the target VDCs through sharing of information relating to HIV and AIDS, especially what it is, how it is transmitted, safety measures, precautions, how it is not transmitted, treatment and humane treatment to the infected and affected.
  2. Carrying out of HIV Awareness amongst Migrant Workers: Special sessions with the returned migrant workers, focused to women and girls, were conducted in the VDCs through sharing of information relating to HIV and AIDS, especially what it is, how it is transmitted, safety measures, precautions, how it is not transmitted, treatment and humane treatment to the infected and affected.
  3. Community Exposure Visit: ETSC-N staffs and officials visited the communities and shared about the HIV and AIDS

VDC level Network of HIV Infected and Affected: Meetings with the HIV and AIDS infected and affected were held and their Networks were formed to access services and facilities availed by the government and other agencies as well as protection of their rights.

 

HIV/AIDS Prevention:

        ETSC has begun HIV and AIDS prevention initiative since 2004 trough raising awareness and providing livelihood skills for PLHIV through Community Peer Watch Group (CPWG) that covered areas of Makwanpur; Handi Khola, Padampokhari, Churiya Mai, Hetauda, Hatiya and Gadhi.         HIV/AIDS becoming the pressing problem in all contexts of all parts of the world. Nepal has its own situation of AIDS spreading and becoming a serious pandemic threat to public health and development of communities. ”Trafficking — contributes to the spread of HIV by significantly increasing the vulnerability of trafficked person to infection” said Caitlin Wiesen-Antin, HIV/AIDS regional co-coordinator, Asia & Pacific for the UNDP.”Both human trafficking and HIV greatly threaten human development and security.” The link between human trafficking and HIV/AIDS has only been identified fairly recently.” Neither HIV/AIDS nor human trafficking have been integrated or mainstreamed adequately, either at policy or programmatic level.” -Wisen-Antin told the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific.

       ETSC/N has been implementing the HIV/AIDS and human trafficking prevention programme in Makwanpur District of Nepal. ETSC/N has identified that Makwanpur district isn’t only the highest ranking area for human trafficking but also the most vulnerable area for the transmission of HIV/AIDS/STI. Women, girls, young boys, men coming back from India and other countries imposes high risk of sexually transmitted diseases in this area. Moreover the people here lack awareness on such diseases or are intimidated by family honors, tradition and social exclusion because of which they hide their disease or don’t take any steps for test. Spouses of the migrant worker also are unaware of the possibilities of HIV/AIDS/STI and take no initiative in making their spouse to take test. Drug abuse also exists in this area among youths and adolescent making them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS/STI. Sub health post and health post in the VDC’s of Makwanpur lack proper facilities for HIV/AIDS/STI test and treatment. Some of the agencies are working in the Makwanpur however there is lack of HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention initiatives targeted to youths, women and migrant groups.                                                                                                                                         

 

Case studies/ Success stories:

 Tales of Sorrow: The World of Persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Kali Shivakote (name changed) age 28 years from Kamane

I studied until class 9 and thereafter I discontinued my studies. My husband was a truck driver in Nepal. As a truck driver my husband used to go on long journeys to drive the truck to different parts of the country. Over a period of time he became alcoholic. I am the second wife of my husband. His first wife has left him and her whereabouts are not known. My husband has two sons from the first wife. I had one son and two daughters who are studying and staying in my mother’s house.

I stay with my Nanad (husband’s sister) in Simra , a small town on the border of India. My husband got sick and the sickness prolonged for nearly two years. He could not be healed in -spite of continuous treatment. His health became a cause of concern to me as he became very thin. At one stage due to sickness he could not recognize family members and his legs got paralyzed. He could not go to toilet and I looked after him.  The fact was that my husband knew the reason of his sickness which he did not disclose to me. Ultimately, I took my husband to Kalimati hospital. After knowing the profession and history of prolonged sickness of my husband the doctors suspected the killer disease HIV/AIDS. I never knew anything about this disease and enquired about this disease from the doctor. I asked the doctor to get my husband tested for HIV but my husband was not interested to undergo this test. On my insisting, the blood was drawn and test was done. The cost of the test was Rs.600/- and I had only Rs.500/- with me. They agreed to do the test for the amount I could afford to give. 

I was asked by the doctor to come on a specific date to take the report of the test. They were not ready to directly tell me the results. I insisted and asked if it was HIV/AIDS which they confirmed. After hearing this I was shocked, I trembled and fell down unconscious. After some time I regained consciousness and the doctor and nurses helped me to face the reality. I felt like committing suicide. Totally shaken and bewildered, I came back home. My husband who was skin and bones, and seriously ill, asked me about the report of the test. I refused to disclose the report and told my husband that the doctor has asked you to come again on some other day. 

My relatives were taunting me. I decided to take my husband to the village. By then I did not get my blood tested. I was advised to get my blood tested and to my surprise I was also infected by the disease. I thought I will go mad; I lost the desire to live. Some people took me to a place where there were women living with HIV/AIDS. That exposure made me realize that I am not the only one hit by the trauma of disease, but there are others who are living in similar circumstances. I realized I am not alone and that gave me hope to live. I was brought back to the main stream of life again. To earn my livelihood I started stitching clothes and got work in a temple. I am getting ARV drugs free of cost which is a great help.

In all these struggles of life I am not able to forget one person Rita Khadka whom I call “Didi” elder sister. In the past I worked in her tailoring shop. She has stood by me in all these struggles and supported me with money and encouragement. Her frequent phone calls give me encouragement and hope.

In the past I had no desire to live but now others including ETSCN has given me courage to live. Their staff periodically meets me and counsels me. To maintain good health I am given monthly nutrition supplement. For enhancing my income ETSCN gave me sewing machine which is a good tool for me to earn. I have also attended their training on entrepreneurship development. To participate in the work of ETSCN I work as a volunteer which satisfies me.