PDH's response to the AIDS epidemic in Togo works on two levels:

1 Education 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 victims
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.