“Does this topic concern me?”

by Steven Hofmann/RBU,  2012/12/01

No new infections! No discrimination! No more deaths due to AIDS.” This is the message Michel Sidibé, Director of UNAIDS, propagates and the target he strives for also on this year’s World Aids Day. A target that seems to be unreachable. However, together we are getting closer to this aim, by way of loyalty, commitment, education and awareness campaigns. It concerns everyone of us, as coordinator Steven Hofmann realised in Ethiopia.

Stigmatisation continues to be a major challenge – in particular in many African countries, where affected persons are driven into isolation. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

“Today, on December 1st, it’s World Aids Day. “Does this topic concern me?", I have often wondered in the past. Today I can give a definite answer to this question: Yes! Thank God, not because I am directly affected, like the estimated 33 millions of persons worldwide who are infected with the fatal virus. This number does not include their friends and families. “Yes”, mainly because I am now living in a country where numerous persons are suffering from the HI-Virus.

Ethiopia is one of the 22 countries of so-called Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that encompasses all African countries south of the Sahara desert. According to UNAIDS estimates, 22.5 million people in those countries are infected with the HI-Virus. That corresponds to 68 percent of the global number of HIV infected persons.

For Ethiopia itself, figures vary. However, it is generally estimated that between 1.5 and 3.5 percent of the entire adult population are infected with HIV. In the meantime, however, the number of new infections fortunately is decreasing.

“Yes", it concerns me, because I am convinced that, being humans, we should assume responsibility for our fellow humans and sympathise with them. Above all when considering that this fatal disease has been known now for almost 30 years, but that awareness is still insufficient in many countries of our earth.

Of course one could say: “If people get infected, it’s their own fault.” This is, however, most definitely wrong. It may be true that many of those affected contrived the disease due to a lack of caution.

However, far more of them got infected due to a lack of awareness, information or even as the result of sexual abuse. Furthermore, according to estimates of the World Health Organisation, at the end of last year the number of HIV-positive children amounted to about 3.4 million worldwide. These children contrived the fatal virus from their mothers during pregnancy, at birth or by way of breastfeeding. Without any fault whatsoever of their own.

Together against discrimination, for awareness and prevention. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

In large parts of Africa, in particular, there still is a lack of awareness regarding the risks of contagion and the prevention of an HIV infection. In Ethiopia, humedica therefore counteracts this problem by means of targeted measures in the framework of the Family Sponsorship Programme. Local employees run intensive awareness campaigns and provide assistance with any arising questions. Apart from that we particularly seek out mothers who already are HIV-positive, in order to offer them help and support.

One of them is Aneley from Addis Abeba. She welcomes me with a friendly smile and invites me to coffee at her house. The 43-year-old widow and mother of two children is an open-minded and cheerful person, who dedicates all her life to her family. In order to earn a living, Aneley bakes and sells bread, injera and various spices.

She has been living with the HIV-infection for seven years now. She tells me that in the beginning she had hidden at home. “I was absolutely terrified and didn’t know where to turn to with all my worries. That was the worst time of my life.” In the meantime, she has come to accept her disease. Not least because her family offers her a lot of support – above all her children.

But nevertheless, her neighbours still continue to cast suspicious glances at her. “Some of my neighbours, for example, don’t want to put their laundry next to mine, or they prefer not to use the same toilet, as I am HIV-positive”, tells Aneley. In the meantime, however, she has learned to deal with these circumstances. She is confident and no longer keeps her disease a secret.

Keeping the disease a secret just makes everything worse”, she says. “Only when I outed myself, was I able to look for help. Therefore, I would like to recommend all HIV patients to confess to their disease.

Also participation in the humedica sponsorship programme meant great support to Aneley, and it has helped her to come a long way on her stony path. Above all, it offered her the opportunity to find ease of mind. “Being able to count on someone is an immense relief. Someone who supports me and takes care of my children. And I would like to thank all those who offer me their help from all my heart!

After my conversation with Aneley I bid her goodbye, deeply impressed by the obvious calmness and acceptance this woman seems to radiate. She told me of her fatal disease with a smile on her face.”

Aneley has come to accept her fate and now takes a stand against stigmatisation and for better awareness and information. Photo: humedica/Steven Hofmann

By means of targeted training measures for the prevention of an HIV infection and for more awareness when dealing with those affected, humedica supports families in the framework of the Sponsorship Programme. This is only one aspect of many of a sponsorship in Ethiopia and other countries. But it is an important one. And something that concerns all of us!

Please assume a sponsorship or support the Family Sponsorship Programme by means of a one-time donation. Thank you very much.

      humedica e. V.
      Reference “Family Sponsorships
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

      SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

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