Partner Highlight

Monday, May 07, 2007

Partner highlight: Positive Lives Goa (PLG)

By, Anuradha Mascarenhas, The Indian Express (Sunday Express), April 29, 2007

At 17, he was detected with AIDS. Ten years on, Jaffer Inamdar is helping others like him in Goa

Porvorim, Goa: It’s not easy to deal with a death sentence at any age; at 17, it’s especially difficult. So when Jaffer Inamdar was told by his doctor that he had AIDS and wouldn’t live for too long, it hit him hard. This was in 1997. Ten years on, the 27-year-old from Goa is running a thriving organisation, Positive Lives Goa (PLG), that works for people with HIV. Needless to say, he has won the battle against HIV—almost.

Inamdar’s story may not be too different from the thousands in India who have been infected by the dreaded virus, but being in Goa it was. In a state that doesn’t have a very high prevalence of HIV positive people, it was a challenge for Inamdar to disclose his status. “This was at a time when people did not know the difference between HIV and AIDS,” says Inamdar, whose parents, originally from Karnataka, settled in Goa before its liberation.

Though it took him a while to reconcile to his condition, Inamdar was the first person in the state to publicly declare his status on World AIDS Day (December 1) in 2001.

“There was a need to provide a face and voice to the HIV epidemic and promote the human rights issues of PLHA (People Living with HIV/AIDS) in Goa,” says Inamdar, who feels that the government statistics don’t really paint a true picture of the epidemic in the state.

According to government records, Goa had 9,360 HIV positive cases in 2006, the first case having been recorded in 1989. The infection has crossed 5 per cent among the high risk groups but is below one per cent in antenatal women.

Inamdar set up Positive Lives Goa in 2002 and believes that it is the people living with HIV/AIDS who are part of the solution in addressing the epidemic. “The Goa State AIDS Control Society (GSACS) has given us funds to carry out awareness programmes, but on setting up our office we are ridiculed for being in an upmarket area,” he says. Currently operating from a 500 sq ft flat in a quiet residential area of Porvorim, Inamdar has his fingers crossed that he doesn’t have to shift from here.

A counsellor with PLHA, Inamdar is helped by his wife, Fahmida, who knew about Inamdar’s HIV status before marriage, and still tied the knot. “I was shocked when he told me about his HIV status, but I couldn’t think of living without him. So we practice safe sex and will adopt a child when we want one,” she says. Adds Inamdar: “People feel comfortable when Fahmida is around as she is HIV negative and yet dared to marry me.”

With the GSACS funds, the two have set up a centre that allows PLHAs to visit and participate in various activities. “There’s so much to be done,” he says, as he readies to set up an HIV positive marriage bureau.


Monday, November 13, 2006

ACW Partner Highlight: Church of Christ Thailand AIDS Ministry (CAM)

A Reverent Fight, Fighting Stigma: From Heart to Heart & From Life to Life.

By, Local Initiatives Team, Health and Development Networks, November 13, 2006

When Ron (not his real name) found out that he was HIV positive, he forced his wife and two children into the family car, and drove at full throttle. The car smashed into a tree, and only Ron was killed in the self-orchestrated accident. Ron had planned to exterminate his family because of his HIV status.

No disease has caused so much fear, alarm and confusion around the world as much as AIDS that some people living with the disease, like Ron, prefer death over life. This is not surprising.

With an AIDS prevalence of 1,7 percent, Thailand is credited for being a model in the global battle to contain the AIDS epidemic. Despite this, stigma and discrimination against people living with the disease are rife.

“We’v talked about stigma but it’s very difficult to address the issue,” said Reverend Sanan Watti, Coordinator of the Church of Christ Thailand AIDS Ministry (CAM), “We encourage people living with HIV to open up to some people, family first and neighbours, and then the community. When people open up, it helps us to offer them help.”

Stigma kills more people with HIV that the disease itself. And the problem is that stigma expresses itself in so many forms; that people who practice it may not even be aware of.

Despite the fact that the problem of HIV and AIDS stigma is widely talked about, it still hangs onto societal attitudes like a leech. According to Reverend Wutti part of the problem emanates from the anti-AIDS campaign in Thailand which painted images of fear and death and portrayed the disease as some form of a dracula. This led to a social construction of AIDS as a monster.

“About 10 years ago, people living with HIV were not even accepted in the hospitals. HIV was viewed negatively,” said Mr. Wutti.

In Thailand today, the battle to HIV and AIDS accepted just like any other disease continues. People living with HIV are shunned within their families and communities. And an obvious consequence has been driving the epidemic underground.

However, since time immemorial, love and compassion have proved to be the two most potent tools in the fight against attitudes of stigma and discrimination. In 1992, Reverend Wutti packed his bags, ready to take up a pastoral opportunity in the United States, but God had other plans, so he says. Then Mr Wutti was offered a posting by the Church of Christ Thailand. Through agonizing prayer and meditation, Mr Wauti was fully convinced that God’s plan for him was in his homeland, so he decided not to leave for the United States. Fifteen years on, it’s a decision that he does not regret.

“I have a lot of happiness in my heart from helping people living with HIV even though what I do demands a lot of work,” he said.

In 1992, he founded the CAM to provide pastoral care and counseling to people openly living with HIV. At first, Reverend Wutti’s fellow ministers and pastors were reluctant to incorporate HIV and AIDS counseling into their work. The church were reluctant to be associated with AIDS due to the prevailing stigma.

“We did not know much about AIDS when we started,” said Mr Watti. “We learned a lot from Africa about pastoral care and caregiving. We learned and applied the materials that we found. We also leaned a lot from people living with HIV as they taught us how to care and love.”

According to Reverend Wutti, his organization collaborates with other faith based organizations to promote positive attitudes towards HIV and AIDS. Although CAM’s work is founded in God’s love and compassion, it does not use its work to convert beneficiaries.

“We treat everyone equally, and do not force people to become Christians when we do our work,” said Reverend Wutti.

The organization trains volunteers that are stationed within the community. Volunteers are followed up and monitored for a period of year to make ensure effectiveness and efficiency of the organization. Every year, the organization also hosts a camp to teach young adults and children about the HIV and AIDS.

Also, social support is provided for orphans and the elderly. Today, CAN supports more than 1,000 people through its drop-in clinic, counseling, training and education as well as spiritual support.

In spite of initial community resistance, CAM managed to build a home that will cater for the terminally ill. The purpose is to improve the quality of lives of these people, especially women.

“Everytime people hear about AIDS, they associate it with death and dying. We want to prove that God still loves people living with HIV or AIDS,” said Mr. Wutti. “We serve God, and serve the people; we serve the people and serve God: it’s a mission.”


To contact:

CCT AIDS Ministry
1/100 Rattanakosin Rd
Meung District
Amphur Muang
Chiang Mai 50000
Tel: +66 53 306310

Monday, October 09, 2006

ACW Partner Highlight: Society "Association HIV.LV"

AIDS-Care-Watch (ACW) commends the work of our campaign partner- Society "Association HIV.LV"- for their work helping people living with HIV and AIDS.

The Society “Association HIV.LV” was founded in March 2006 by 4 regional organizations and some individuals, which work in HIV/AIDS, advocacy of PLWHA, social rehabilitation of drug users, and harm reduction fields in Latvia.

At this present point in time the organization has expanded and it consists of 5 organizations and 14 individuals. Association HIV.LV is officially registered. The main goals of the organization are PLWHA advocacy, fund raising for common projects, membership in international organizations, monitoring of treatment access, and other queries on PLWHA empowerment and improving their lives in Latvia.

The organization has two rehabilitation centers: for drug users “Lapaini” (for 7 people) at Cesis district, and for families in crisis “Milgravis” (for 12 people) in Riga.

The organization provides important information on HIV/AIDS to all it's members by group mailing list

Thursday, September 21, 2006

ACW Partner Highlight: Public Health Watch

AIDS-Care-Watch (ACW) commends the work of our campaign partner- Public Health Watch (a project of the Open Society Institute)- for their work in monitoring national governments’ commitments to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB).

According to a new study published by Public Health Watch (PHW) (released just before the International Aids Conference in Toronto), governments around the world are failing to address the deadly interaction between tuberculosis and HIV.

The report examines the preventable but growing global TB epidemic, its interaction with HIV/AIDS, and the inadequate response to the two diseases in Bangladesh, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Thailand. The report revealed a striking lack of political commitment to control TB, despite the fact that tuberculosis is the leading infectious cause of death for people living with HIV/AIDS, and that AIDS is fueling a resurgence of TB in many areas of the world.

Public Health Watch urges national governments, NGO’s and activists to take immediate action against the twin epidemics- HIV and TB. For more information about PHW and this report, please go here.

ACW Partner Highlight: Pakistan Village Development Program

Pakistan Village Development Program (PVDP) is a non governmental organization based in Peshawar. PVDP- established in 1999-works with communities to build their capacities and “harness the creative energies of poor and underprivileged in the field of human & institutional development, non formal primary education, drinking water supply and sanitation, reproductive/primary Health Care, HIV/AIDS awareness and vocational skills development.”

PVDP has been working in the field of reproductive health and particularly in HIV/AIDS awareness raising for the last three years in various districts with the support of international agencies such as Catholic Relief Services (CRS), UNICEF & Aus-AID etc. PVDP also focuses on Adolescent Reproductive Health in Swat and Peshawar Districts in collaboration with World Population Foundation (WPF).

For more information about PVDP, please click here.

ACW partner highlight: Bangladesh AIDS Information and Dissemination Services

BAIDS, is a network of five major civil society organizations working on HIV/AIDS, which includes CCD (Centre for Communication and Development), Communication for AIDS Prevention project (CAP), Anti-AIDS Journalist Alliance (AJA), Bangladesh Anti-AIDS Students' Alliance (BASA) and CARE Bangladesh.

Bangladesh, with a population of 136 million, had about 13,000 adults and children living with HIV infection at the end 2002, according to UNAIDS estimates. However, only 248 HIV cases have actually been reported.

Significant underreporting of cases occurs because of the country's limited voluntary testing and counseling capacity and the social stigma, which leads to the fear of being identified and detected as HIV positive.

The HIV-prevalence rate among adults between the ages of 15 and 49 is still relatively low, at 0.1 percent of the population. As expected, rates are higher in specific groups, such as injecting drug users who have left treatment (1.7 percent) and commercial sex workers (0.5 percent), according to a national behavioral and serological surveillance undertaken in 2001.

BAIDS programme was initiated with the main objective to provide up-to-date HIV/AIDS related information to inform communication media, journalists, researchers and organizations.

Executive Director Golam Mourtoza says that "At the beginning of this project a separate cell at the CCD office was established which was called Bangladesh AIDS Information and Documentation Service (BAIDS).

This type of center was first of its kind in Bangladesh. BAIDS worked at the same time as HIV/AIDS related news agency and as a resource center.

Its task as news agency was to provide factual reports, features, articles, news items, views etc reports of all the activities of this project as well as various activities of HIV/AIDS program of CARE Bangladesh. Through e-mail and fax these were sent to all the news media, journalists at local and national level, national and international agencies in the country.

In a similar way it provided photograph-library, reports, features, articles, news items and views about agencies working in Bangladesh as well as abroad to combat the deadly disease, their success, experience insights & gain".

BAIDS is also a partner organization of the AIDS-CARE-WATCH campaign and believes that it is vitally important to raise awareness about comprehensive care and support options locally available to people living with HIV in Bangladesh.

For more information please contact: Or write to:

Bangladesh AIDS Information and Dissemination Services (BAIDS), Center for Communication and Development (CCD), Dream Paradise House, Monnafer Morh, Raninagar, Rajshahi-6204, Bangladesh.
Telephone +880-721-751001
Fax +880-721-751001
Hotline +880-11-091441
Email: or