Namibian Government Must Consult HIV-Positive People in Reviewing Prevention, Treatment Program, Survey Says
Namibia must include people living with HIV in the review process of the country's prevention and treatment programs, including its mother-to-child prevention program, according to a recent survey conducted by Namibia's Ministry of Health, the Namibian/AllAfrica.com reports.
The survey was conducted in nine cities in November 2005 among members of the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Namibia and members of the Rainbow Project -- an organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. According to the report, 21% of members of the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS said they had been "treated badly or unfairly" by hospital staff or health care workers. "A third of those who felt they had been maltreated by a health worker linked this with stigma-related behavior and specified that a health care worker was afraid to touch them," the report said.
The report called on the Ministry of Health and nongovernmental organizations to train and use people living with the disease as "expert patients" as part of an antiretroviral treatment team. The report said that HIV-positive people could provide counseling, antiretroviral support and information and act as a bridge to health care workers. In addition, they could help identify gaps in the mother-to-child prevention program. The report said that the ministry also should train health care workers in interpersonal communication and consider offering viral load tests after six months of antiretroviral treatment and annually thereafter.
Marcus Goraseb, deputy director of the Ministry of Health, welcomed the recommendations, adding that an effective HIV prevention strategy should include thorough planning with evidence-based information, dedication, sharing of experiences and accountability (Maletsky, Namibian/AllAfrica.com, 11/5).