Youth Activities of CAB
AWAKENING HIV&AIDS ACTIVITIES FOR THE BLIND IN LIBERIA
A comprehensive Report covering AFUB's HIV / AIDS Workshop conducted by the oversight committee of The Liberia Christian Association of the Blind and the Liberia National Association of the Blind (CABLNAB) at CAB National Resource Center for the Blind in Vai town Community, Robertsfield Highway, Paynesville city
In fulfillment of the African Union of the Blind (AFUB) HIV/AIDS awareness and training project for the blind and partially sighted persons in Africa, a one week HIV&AIDS workshop was conducted by the Oversight Committee of CABLNAB (The Liberia Christian Association of the Blind and the Liberia National Association of the Blind) at the National Resource Center for the Blind on the Robertsfield Highway. This exercise, which was intended for blind and partially sighted women and men in Liberia, brought together about twenty-six (26) participants (blind and partially sighted persons) from various part of the country began on Sunday, September 27, 2009 and was completed on October 2, 2009. This training was given to the blind and partially sighted folks in a bid to make them capable to undertake grass-root training in their communities upon returning home.
The aims of the training included amongst other things: to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS amongst blind and partially sighted individuals and to promote their access to inclusion in the mainstreaming of HIV&AIDS programs; i.e. information, awareness and care programs.
The objective of the training was to: raise the awareness of HIV/AIDS among the blind and partially sighted people, make them to benefit from HIV/AIDS and reproductive health awareness training and enable them to participate equally as advocates, be trained as trainers/peer educators, and that the capacities of the two associations be improved to empower them advocate effectively on behalf of the blind and partially sighted women and men in the provision of HIV/AIDS related information and materials and for access to mainstream information on HIV/AIDS infection and control to them.
The awareness of HIV/AIDS challenges and achievements will help the blind and partially sighted persons in Liberia to have an insight of HIV/AIDS and practices to prevent same will be developed so that they can be exported to other countries
Monday, September 28: Day One (1)
The training program began when participants from various parts of Liberia including Bong, Bassa, Bomi, Margibi, Montserrado, and Rivercess counties arrived at the CAB National Resource Center for the Blind (the venue for the training) on the Robertsfield High Way on Sunday, September 27, 2009, where they resided for the next six days to go through the HIV/AIDS Awareness training.
On Monday morning, September 28, 2009 at 8:00 AM, the participants gathered in the hall to be registered; they were given tags to be identified as participants.
Thereafter, the welcome remarks and the introduction to training (norms) were done by Rev. William Hooks, Coordinator of the HIV & AIDS Awareness Training, followed by Mr. Beyan Kota, Chairman of CABLNAB Oversight Committee who did the official launching of the exercise as it relates to HIV/AIDS Awareness and the training of trainers/Peer Educators in Liberia. In his remarks, Mr. Kota expressed his delight for the training and appreciated AFUB for undertaking such a rewarding project in Liberia which is geared towards building the capacities of visually impaired persons in Liberia where there is a need for reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and the prevention of HIV/AIDS amongst blind and partially sighted individuals in the country.
Ms. Sally Nduta, AFUB's HIV/AIDS Coordinator for Africa, was called upon by the Coordinator to deliver an overview of the personal expectations and the training objectives which were outlined in the introduction of this report.
Thereafter, she went on to do a presentation on "Introduction to Sex and Sexuality", "Introduction to HIV & AIDS", "Personal and Community attitudes" and "Values towards HIV &AIDS"." This session lasted from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM at which time the participants were asked to go for lunch.
The second session resumed after lunch at 2:00 PM with Dr. Ivan Camanor, from the National AIDS Commission serving as the Facilitator. He made a presentation on the topic: "The Method of HIV Transmission and the impact of HIV & AIDS on our communities".
In his discussions, he gave a clear illustration of the three means by which HIV gets inside the human body such as:
(1) Sexual contact: male to female (heterosexual), Male to male (MSM), Female to female (Lesbian)
(2)Blood Exposure: transfusion of blood products, injecting drug use/needle sharing, occupational exposure.
(3) Mother to Child: transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding.
According to Dr. Camanor, the HIV Transmission Efficiency Rates (the rate by which HIV/IDS can also be contacted) includes: Blood Transfusion, the rate of contacting HIV in blood transfusion stand at 95%. Vertical transfusion, the rate is 30% to 40 % whereas in Breast Milk it is 14% to 20%.
He continued by listing the blood products, semen, viginal fluids and breast milk as the bodily fluids used by the HIV virus to enter the body, and not by kissing, touching or shaking hands, through the air or by coughing and sneezing, sharing crockery or cutlery, through contact with toilet seats, through insect or animal bites, through sharing a common swimming pond and by eating food prepared by some one with HIV. He said that these were all myths of HIV Infection transmissions.
Dr. Camanor also gave the prevalence of HIV in Liberia per age group and county. Please see below a chart for HIV prevalence per age:
HIV Prevalence among women
HIV Prevalence among men
As per the prevalence of HIV by county, the Northwestern part of Liberia carries a percentage of 5.4%,Western region has 4.1%,southern area has 5.4% with the Eastern region carrying 9.0% whereas the Southeastern has a percentage of 5.5%
He further stressed that the percentage of HIV transmission modes in Mother to child is 15%, Heterosexual percentage is 80% while the percentage in others is 5%.
According to him, the percentage of HIV in Liberia under the age of 15 is 16%,from age 15 to 24 is 42%, and from age 25 and over is 42% according to UNAIDS report on Liberia.
The Facilitator concluded by saying that in Liberia, HIV transmission is mainly through heterosexual contact (male to female and female to male), the second common method of transmission is mother to child transmission, sexual transmitted infections increase HIV transmission, multiple partnership is a very important actor in HIV transmission and that education and wealth are associated with increased HIV transmission.
The session came to an end by 4:30 PM and the activities for the day one was over.
Tuesday, September 29: Day Two (2)
The activities for the second day began at 8:00 Am on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 with a recap of the previous day's session. Thereafter, a facilitator from Family Planning Association of Liberia presided over the first session of the second day and presented on the topic: HIV and the immune system. He defined HIV as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus which invades the white blood cells (the helper T cells) to reproduce itself, but destroys the infected cells.
People come in contact with the HIV Infection when they have unprotected intercourse, which carries a high risk of HIV transmission(viginal, anal and oral) where the receptive partners is at the greater risk in viginal, anal and oral.
Sharing needles without sterilization, occupational exposure(accidental injections by health workers, and transfusion of blood ad blood product increase damage the immune system and thereby increase the chances of contacting HIV .
He continued by saying that the effect of HIV infection on the immune system which serves as a gate way to the body protective shield increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and that a suppressed immune response due to HIV can:
Increase the reactivation of genital ulcers, increase the rate of abnormal cell growth, increase the difficulty in curing reactivated or newly acquired genital ulcers and increase the risk of becoming infected with additional sexually transmitted diseases.
A person who is co-infected with an sexually transmitted infection and HIV may be more likely to transmit HIV due to an increase in HIV viral shedding as more white blood cells, some carrying HIV, may be present in the mucosa of the genital area due to a sexually transmitted infection.
According to him, having multiple sexual partners increase HIV infection risk, and that there is now very good evidence that being uncircumcised greatly increase the risk of heterosexual man acquiring HIV infection.
This session came to an end by 10:30 at which time they were dismissed to go for tea break.
At 11:00 Am, the training resumed with Mr. Philip Davis, another Facilitator from the Family Planning Association of Liberia presenting on the topic" Condom-Negotiating condom use." He outlined his objectives which included:
Exploring the feeling, attitudes and perception about condoms, demonstrating correct male and female condoms application, describing advantages and disadvantages of condom used, distinguish facts and myths about condoms and condoms use, and discuss ways by which visually impaired persons can interact with condoms use effectively.
He then when on to define condoms as the physical barrier that prevent sperm from entering the vigina, a thin sheath place over an erected penis, and better still, a soft tube make of thin rubber where one end is close and is used to prevent pregnancy and HIV/ADS. The usefulness of condoms in preventing pregnancies and HIV/AIDS was recognized in 1700s after Gabrielle Fallopius, an Italian published the prophylactic condoms used in the 16th century.
Condoms, he said works by holding the sperms so they cannot meet the egg inside the women's body. The condoms also prevent STI in including HIV, it blocks the exchange of the body fluids that may be infected, and stops direct contact of the penis and vigina which stops infection. When used improperly, it leads to breakages. For this reason, condoms are put under intense testing before they are sold to ensure the highest quality possible, which means breakage is more associated with poor usage.
Therefore, for one to properly use a condom in order for it to provide maxima protection, it must be used consistently and correctly. Consistently means using the condom from start to finish every time you have sex, whereas, correctly means using the condom the proper way to avoid breakages.
To reduce the risk of breaking and tearing, use the condom for every type of sexual behavior between partners involving contact with penis and it should be used for the entire duration of that behavior and be replaced for different behavior such as viginal, anal and oral.
Don't never use a condom if the package is tear, broken, and unsealed, if the condom is dried out, or sticky, the color different or change. Always make sure that the condom doesn't have a leak and that the air in
condom is not flowing out before using it. Don't use it if the expiring date has passed out, and don't use your teeth, finger nails or other sharp objects in opening the condom wrapper, because it might tear inside.
The advantages of using condoms includes: preventing pregnancy and STI including HIV, no need to see a health care provider before using, can always be used and can be used after child birth and also during breast feeding and have rare side effects.
The disadvantages are: must be used during each act of sexual intercourse and may cause itch or rash, if allergic to rubber (latex).
Thereafter, he gave a global overview of the usage of condoms and HIV/ AIDS updates and why condoms count in the Era of HIV/AIDS stating that according to UNAIDS 2004 statistics, there are 29.4 million people living with HIV/AIDs and that half of that number are women and children, 3 million are newly affected persons and 2 million deaths are due to the virus. HIV/AIDS is the forth killer diseases in the world with 14 thousand people being infected with the virus on a daily basis and vast majority is from sexual intercourse. UNFPA estimates that 8 billion condoms were needed in 2000 for STI/HIV prevention around the globe. It has now been predicted that by 2015, 18.6 billion condoms will be needed to help put a stop to HIV/AIDS.
Commenting on Liberia, he specified that HIV prevalence rate is 1.5, given the population of 3.5 million people.
At closing stages of the discussion, artificial penis and vigina were displayed and the participants (blind and partially sighted) were taught how to use the condoms suitably. A demonstration was done by each of the participants who did exactly as was instructed. This was followed by a debate on the importance, advantages and disadvantages of condoms with a cross section of the participants making inputs to the topic across the floor. The session ended by 1:00 PM.
The second period of the day was taken over by Felecia, a facilitator from the National Aids Control Program who presented on the topic" Testing for HIV (Counseling and Testing"). In his impulsiveness, she gave the definition HIV Testing and Counseling as: an intervention which gives the clients/patient an opportunity to confidentially discuss his or her HIV risk, and be assisted to learn his or her HIV status for the purposes of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support (NACP, 2006).
She sustained by saying that counseling is a process that g help people to cope with problems and to make their decisions (IRC, 2003); it is a confidential dialog between a client and a counselor aimed at enabling the client to cope with stress and to take personal decisions related to HIV/AIDS(IRC,2003).
The facilitator discussed the three components of HIV Testing and Counseling as Initial counseling session(pre-test),HIV test, and the second counseling session(post -test).
Afterward, she outlined the benefits of HIV Testing and Counseling in three categories which included:
HIV Testing and Counseling empowers the uninfected person himself or herself from becoming infected with HIV, assists infected persons to protect others and live positively and offers the opportunity to access ARVs and treatment for infections associated with HIV.
HIV Testing and Counseling benefit couple by supporting safer relationships-enhance faithfulness, encouraging family planning and treatment to help prevent mother to child HIV transmission and by allowing the couple /family to plan for the future.
In the community, HIV Testing and Counseling generates optimism, as large numbers of persons test HIV-negative, reduces stigma, as more persons "break silence" about having HIV affection and serves as a catalyst for he implementation of treatment, care and support services.
Miss Felecia after that listed and discussed the four challenges of HIV Testing and Counseling as:
1. Limited access
She said, limited access is due to the counselor ad health care workers have other roles to play, burnout(emotional exhaustion) due to non availability of support system for counselors.
HIV is highly stigmatized in most countries-visiting an HTC site is interpreted as being HIV positive, and social reflections, issues of confidentiality and provider not trusted are all major challenges.
3. Gender inequalities
The need for protection and support of vulnerable women, that result in lose of home, spouse and children and the being abused or beaten by spouse, if their status becomes known.
To end with, she explained the models of HIV Testing and Counseling delivery in Liberia as integrated HIV Testing and Counseling services stand alone HIV Testing Counseling services, outreach HIV Testing and Counseling services and private sector HIV Testing and Counseling services.
On this note, the day's activities were accomplished.
Wednesday, September 30: Day Three (3)
The third day of the training began with smiles on the faces of the participants who were impressed and expressed their contentment on the part of AFUB for conducting the workshop. One could tell from the expression and joy on the faces of the Participants who explained that they were overwhelmed with the presentations of the facilitators for the past sessions.
The participants assembled in the hall at 8:00 Am and the workshop began with the run through of the previous day's sessions where almost of the participants were abled to make inputs and contributions.
Thereafter, the facilitator for the first session representing GIPA-Liberia was called to do a presentation on "Positive Living". In his forethought, he gave a vivid picture on managing HIV and AIDS which include preventing and treating infections, doing anti-retroviral therapy, acquiring the principles of positive living and the structure of care, treatment and support of persons with HIV and AIDS in Liberia .The fist session lasted from 8:30 AM to 11:00 AM.
At the end of the session, the participants were asked to go for lunch. They return by 2:00 PM to continue with the second session which at this time was been facilitated by Alimata Abdul Karim of Ghana, one of the international facilitators.
She focused on the topic" Gender and HIV & AIDS" which she said has an inter-connection. The inter-connection between gender and HIV & AIDS is that the primary mode of HIV &AIDS transmission is sexual, since gender norms shape attitudes and affect people(men and women in general).
According to her, like race and ethnicity, gender is a construct which defines or dedifferentiates the roles, works, responsibilities and obligations of women and men in a given societal and the world at large.
After these presentations, the day's activities came to an end at 4:00 PM
Thursday, October 1: Day Four (4)
Alimata Abdul Karim was for a second time the facilitator for the first session on the fourth day of the workshop. She earlier did a review of the previous day's session which she conducted and proceeded with the day's activities.
This time around, she presented the topic "Blindness and HIV /AIDS: Issues of Access".
During the coursed of the topic under discussion, she gave the participants an indebt details of how persons with disabilities can prevent themselves from getting the HIV/AIDS virus and educate others from acquiring the virus as well.
She said that the blind and partially sighted persons should avoid sharing needles without sterilization, occupational exposure (accidental injections by health workers, and transfusion of blood and blood product increase damage the immune system. This, she continued, will reduce the chances of contacting HIV.
The participants were therefore cautioned to always be accompanied by a relative or a friend when going to seek medical treatment to ensure that the are treated with care and sterilized needles, and that they are given purified blood during transfusion.
Moreover, they blind and partially sighted women and men must make certain that they have access to all information relating to HIV/AIDS through a strong advocacy campaign which will strengthen their capacities in the fight against HIV/AIDS amongst themselves and the larger society.
She was later followed by Miss Sally Nduta, AFUB's HIV/AIDS Coordinator who presided over the next gathering and presented on subject "HIV/AIDS Peer Education" and "Planning for grass-root training" .
Miss Sally Nduta explained the importance of peer education and its purpose stating the strategies of peer education, and the roles, responsibilities and challenges of peer educators as it relates to HIV/AIDS.
The trainee were told to raise the awareness of HIV/AIDS among the blind and partially sighted people, make them to benefit from HIV/AIDS and reproductive health awareness training and which will enable them to participate equally as advocates, be trained as trainers/peer educators, and that the capacities of the two associations be improved to empower them advocate effectively on behalf of the blind and partially sighted women and men in the provision of HIV/AIDS related information and materials and for access to mainstream information on HIV/AIDS infection and control to them be strengthened.
The activities coincided with the usual format of the program activities as was organized by AFUB/CABLNAB program Committee.
Friday October 2 : Day Five(5)
Friday, October 2, 2009 marked the last day of the workshop. This was the day that all the activities were to come to a halt after a whole week of intensive training. As usual, the day's activities started with a recapped of the previous day's lesions.
Afterward, the actual session commenced and was focused on the "presentation of plan" During this time; plans were presented by the participants and were followed by the evaluation of the week.
Thereafter, the one week intensive HIV/AIDS training came to a close at 3:30 PM, 30 minutes before the actual closing time.
At the end of it all, the participants were impressed and delighted. They were thankful to AFUB/CABLNAB for affording them such a glorious opportunity to go through the one week intensive training where they learned so many things which will be practicable in their lives and passed on to others visually impaired and partially sighted persons in their communities upon returning to their respective places of residence.
Attached to this report is the full listing of the participants and copies of the peer education workshop they conducted in their various communities after completing the one week intensive training conducted by AFUB on HIV/AIDS Awareness: