HIV/AIDS initiatives ZACH has been directing in Zimbabwe.
With a curriculum helping to deconstruct stigmas in faith communities around HIV/AIDS, our Faith Community Initiative (FCI) program leverages the influence of faith communities to spread vital education and resources to their communities. Dr. Mandizvidza explains how messages of hope seek to counter the “doom and gloom” often accompanying the topic of HIV/AIDS.
This is a project that has shown great promise through the establishment of community outreach posts. Borrowed from the Zambian organization, Circle of Hope, this model seeks to decongest public clinics and hospitals by increasing accessibility to testing services and ARVs, as well as providing ongoing support for individuals living with HIV/AIDS within their communities. We have placed these community outreach posts in accessible public areas, like busy markets and bus terminals, where health care staff–a nurse and a counselor–can provide a range of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and supportive services. FCI workers, referred to fittingly as Champions, distribute HIV self-test kits throughout five provinces in the country and help to direct the people testing positive to the nearest community outposts or clinics available for confirmatory HIV testing and additional services.
Opening up these posts and having them work in conjunction with Champions is one significant way of decreasing the barriers people face to testing and to receiving the necessary treatment and support after diagnosis. As more community outreach posts are established in Harare, and with the FCI Champions’ continual efforts, the goal is to alleviate and remove the ever-looming burden of accessibility. These outposts exist for the many people, especially men, who lack the means or time to travel for testing or to pick up their ARVs. They no longer need to make the arduous trip to a health clinic or hospital, but instead can stop by a post on the way or near their workplaces and homes.