that encourages prevention
The principal aim of our educational campaigns is to prevent
further spread of HIV by encouraging a change of behaviour.
Much of this takes place on a cultural level. For example,
we encourage fidelity and the use of condoms in a society
where men are free to wed several wives. Such a custom is
potentially disastrous for the multiple wives of a HIV infected
husband. We also discourage the traditional practise where
the sister or brother of a spouse that has recently died will
be wed in order to replace the deceased. Such a practise conveys
disastrous results for the wife or husband-to-be if the recently
deceased has died as a result of AIDS.
Such objectives are achieved through
regular discussions on the local radio station, small group
workshops and counselling sessions for individuals and families.
2 The care of AIDS and HIV
PDH assumes the caretaker role for anyone who comes to our
centre already HIV infected. We have a modest range of medicines
that are designed to ease the pain caused by this immune system
attacking virus. We have high energy food such as rice and
dried fish in storage which we give to our patients.
PDH also counsels such victims who
are often neglected by their own families and spouses - the
result of a society where fear and misunderstanding of this
virus is rampant. The majority of families in Togo regard
the virus as a curse that has resulted from prostitution.
Such a diagnosis is shrouded in shame in a country where victims
of AIDS and HIV are usually neglected and often left to die
as financial support is often severed by a victim's very own
family. We thus urge the families of such victims to strive
to care for their HIV or AIDS infected relation who is still
capable of living for a long time - contrary to popular belief.
Each year in Togo many children lose
their parents to the AIDS virus. PDH strives to take on the
responsibility of such orphans. We will often source a family
member who is willing to adopt such a child and ensure that
he or she receives a proper education. We will then maintain
a long-term contact with the family.