ICAP News - May 2009

Nigeria Foundation Raises Hope for PLWH

In 2004, soon after her husband died of HIV/AIDS, Cecilia Ajeh learned that she was HIV infected. Uncertain about what to do, Ajeh turned to the community-based Gantys Aid for Widows, Orphans, and Needy (GAWON) Foundation, which linked her to ICAP-supported Kafanchan General Hospital in Nigeria.

Ajeh is among 600 PLWH supported by the GAWON Foundation, an organization that has made a significant mark on the communities it serves. Since 2006, ICAP has been working with the foundation to build its capacity to deliver support services for PLWH and those affected by the disease, including orphans and vulnerable children.

“Because of our work, we have become more visible and HIV stigma has been reduced,” said T.A. Shamang, GAWON’s president and founder. “People come to an organization like ours and find hope rising.”

The organization is particularly active in raising awareness about HIV through public education, as well as providing HIV counseling and testing at churches, mosques, and other locations.

While ensuring its clients receive needed support for adhering to care and treatment, Shamang said GAWON is also committed to helping them become self-sufficient. At its headquarters in Manchok, sewing classes are offered for women to learn skills to start their own clothing businesses.  The foundation also teaches clients about catfish farming and growing ginger to sell in local markets.

In addition to learning sewing, Ajeh takes part in GAWON’s “Get One and Give One” program that provides her and other PLWH with cows and different animals to raise for income. Ajeh has received a cow, which she named “Kyauta” or “Gift” in Hausa. The first-born calf from this cow will be passed on to another GAWON client. Ajeh, however, may sell other calves born to Kyauta for income. By giving her life a focus, the program builds her confidence and hope in the future.

“I feel very happy with the cow,” said Ajeh. “She keeps me going.”

Photo caption: Cecilia Ajeh with her cow Kyauta.

For more about ICAP Nigeria, visit here.

U.S. Senators Visit ICAP-Supported Site in Rwanda

On May 30, U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Bob Corker (R-TN) visited ICAP-supported Kicukiro Health Center in Kigali, Rwanda. In a tour of the facility with ICAP-Rwanda Country Director Ruben Sahabo, MD, and officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the senators met with health care providers, members of an HIV support group, and children living with HIV, including 15-year old William Ntambara who has been on HIV treatment his entire life.

In remarks during the visit, Corker said,  “You are doing a great job.”

Since 2002, ICAP has been supporting Kicukiro Health Center, which provides comprehensive HIV services, including antiretroviral therapy, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and peer education and counseling groups. ICAP activities at the site include clinical training and supportive supervision, as well as support for facility improvements. The facility was one of the initial sites supported by ICAP’s MTCT-Plus Initiative, a multicountry family-centered program. Kicukiro Health Center is also one of Rwanda’s Model Centers of Excellence for HIV/tuberculosis integration. As of March, the health center provided HIV care to 3,253 people, including antiretroviral therapy for 1,935 individuals.

The senators’ visit to Rwanda was part of a four-country Africa tour to assess outcomes of U.S. foreign aid.

Photo caption: ICAP-Rwanda Country Director Ruben Sahabo, MD, (left) explains the importance of support groups to Senators Johnny Isakson (center) and Bob Corker.

For more about ICAP Rwanda, visit here.

Village Health Workers in Lesotho Confront Attitudes Toward HIV

In rural areas of Lesotho, fear of stigmatization prevents many people living with HIV (PLWH) from accessing care and treatment services. Recognizing that better knowledge about HIV among village health workers can help break down these barriers to HIV services, ICAP, the Lesotho Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and the Mohale’s Hoek District Health Management Team held a four-day training in April focusing on HIV basics, antiretroviral therapy, and treatment adherence.

In addition to didactic lessons, the training program featured role-play scenarios and group discussions about the village health workers’ experiences with stigma and discrimination in their communities. Participants also developed specific strategies for changing their attitudes about HIV.

“This training helped me see the ways I might discriminate or stigmatize people in my community and how this can affect the quality of services I provide,” said Mashekoe Mojaje, a health worker from Sefateng village.

Village health workers, who provide home-based care services, play important roles in linking PLWH and terminally ill patients to health facilities and other community-based services. The HIV training program is part of a pilot initiative to engage more of these healthcare providers in supporting HIV service programs. Additional training sessions are planned for village health workers Mafeteng, Quthing, and Qacha’s Nek Districts.

Photo caption: Training participant Mme Malillo Moeketse of Sankatano, Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho

For more about ICAP Lesotho, visit here.

Global Director Named to Scientific American 10 Honor Roll

In its June issue, Scientific American Magazine names Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, ICAP global director, to its first annual “Scientific American 10 honor roll.” The award recognizes ten individuals for innovations that benefit humanity. El-Sadr was cited for pioneering a comprehensive, family-based model for HIV care that has been adopted worldwide.

Candidates for the “Scientific American 10” were nominated by the magazine's Board of Editors, readers, and advisers in a broad range of fields. Others on the honor roll list include U.S. President Barack Obama, philanthropist Bill Gates, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In 2008, El-Sadr was named a MacArthur Fellow “Genius” by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.