Helping Prevent the Spread of AIDS through Education in Sudan

Helping Prevent the Spread of AIDS through Education in Sudan

Obed Diener | VIP Assignment | Sudan | July 2006

obed

For many years now Southern Sudan has been struggling with one of the most fatal diseases in history, AIDS. A sample of country blood donors in 2004 revealed a prevalence rate of 9%, suggesting that since the population of the country has been growing significantly, there is a grave chance of an epidemic.

CHF cooperated with other non-governmental organizations to identify interventions that would strengthen the effectiveness of existing activities and prepare CHF for future programming opportunities in the region. Research already conducted by the organizations showed that risky behavior is commonplace in Southern Sudan and that the level of public understanding is low.
 
The role of CHF was to organize campaigns in coordination with local communities to spread the knowledge about HIV/AIDS, providing logistical support for HIV/AIDS facilitators, and presenting information on the disease. CHF sent Obed Diener, to Sudan to help implement the project. Obed helped educate the residents on the fatal disease and moderated various events. To reach the Sudanese, CHF purchased food and drinks for the participants of events additionally paying a small fee to local facilitators to compensate them for their time.
 
The task to raise HIV/AIDS awareness was challenging due to the stigma associated with AIDS and fact that retroviral treatment available is largely ignored. Obed helped promote prevention and treatment of the disease, efforts for which are still weak and fragmented in the region.
 
Obed mobilized and educated the people from Kajo Keji in Sudan trying to reach the largest amount of people as possible, especially the HIV/AIDS high-risk groups. As a Visiting International Professional, he also spoke with medical and public health experts from organizations with deep experience in South Sudan to help effectively assess the possibilities of improving AIDS prevention methods. He helped promote trainings that covered the difference between HIV/AIDS, then addressed modes of transmission, and finally described means of prevention. School anti-AIDS clubs and other community members were invited to perform songs and dramas with messages related to HIV/AIDS.
 
Obed’s work did bring results at the community level. He helped spread messages to encourage healthy behaviors through organized events. Strong attendance and participation at recent CHF workshops were observed, suggesting that a window of opportunity remains open for further education.