Mobilizing Communities to Fight HIV
Bridget is one of the community health workers in Malawi dedicated to reducing the burden of HIV and AIDS in her community.
Malawi has an unacceptably high rate of HIV infections and HIV-related deaths. Through funding from PEPFAR/USAID, Project HOPE is partnering with Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and Plan International to provide community-based prevention, care and support interventions for those infected, affected and at risk of HIV. The One Community Activity, awarded on December 9, 2015, has already benefited 87,429 orphans and vulnerable children and their caregivers; reached 137,230 individuals through risk reduction education; and provided targeted community-based HIV testing services to 28,910 clients. The success of One Community is founded in training and mobilizing 3,742 community health workers including volunteers to deliver these services. Bridget is one of the community health workers dedicated to reducing the burden of HIV and AIDS in her community and to reaching the UNAIDS 90/90/90* targets by 2020.
My aunt nearly died due to an undiagnosed HIV infection in 2007. She discovered very late what had been causing her recurrent illness and she would have perished if she hadn’t eventually been tested for HIV and started her treatment. My aunt’s gift of life is a constant inspiration to me and is why I have committed myself to bringing HIV testing services to my community and to ensuring that those who test positive get on treatment immediately.
I was trained by the One Community Activity in comprehensive community health work, focusing on delivering health and social services to my own community. I was trained on how to provide HIV testing services and how to facilitate Village Savings and Loan Groups, which offer support to families impacted by this terrible disease. I now mentor 10 community resource persons who help me deliver these lifesaving services.
The HIV testing services training I received and the knowledge I have gained is immeasurable because we can now offer testing services in communities where we live and we are able to ensure that every community member who tests positive receives care and support immediately. This is very important to me personally because I am able to make sure that no one suffers the way my aunt did when testing services were not as accessible.
*UNAIDS 90/90/90 targets: By 2020 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.