HIV Stigma Reduction Programme

HIV STIGMA REDUCTION PROGRAMME

This programme was launched by Anglican churches in Zimbabwe as a means of tackling the stigma surrounding HIV, welcoming people who have disclosed their status and offering them practical suport.

USPG started supporting this profoundly important programme in 2016 when it began. The programme was launched in four of Zimbabwe’s five Anglican dioceses: Central Zimbabwe, Harare, Masvingo and Matabeleland. Its initial goal was to reduce the level of HIV-related stigma and discrimination in these areas down to zero by 2019.

Using the public health system approach known as Information, Education and Communication (IEC), the programme set about educating the public on basic facts about HIV/AIDS with a combination of media, art and advocacy. Churches conducted campaigns and outreaches in institutions and public spaces, produced special videos and made radio programmes. They designed, produced and distributed IEC material covering issues such as HIV transmission, HIV-related stigma, nutrition and the rights of people living with HIV. The message was spread on Tee shirts, scarves, leaflets, mugs and key rings. Sporting events were organised that included people living with HIV. Special events were organised to commemorate World AIDS Day. The programme also lobbied for policy changes, especially workplace HIV policy and recruitment agencies that demand candidates to disclose their HIV status.

One of the programme’s positive outcomes was an increase in the number of people coming forward to find out what their HIV status was. Knowing one’s HIV status enables people to make informed decisions. The church was able to show these people where they could receive medication or advice on their diets. They were also able to join one of the wellness groups the church runs.

According to The Rt Rev’d Bishop Godfrey Tawonezvi, the HIV stigma reduction programme ‘has put the Church on the map of Zimbabwe’.