Disability and HIV: fighting stigma in Zimbabwe

In the province of Mashonaland West, it is estimated there are about 200,000 people living with HIV and 122 450 living with disabilities. In many cases, these people live in poverty, they can not pay or can not access health services because of the stigma, discrimination and lack of information. People with disabilities are those who suffer most from the collapse of social services: in fact, disability is seen in a totally negative due to cultural factors, ignorance, superstition and fear.
To contribute to the improvement of quality of life of people with disabilities and people living with HIV, the project intervenes in support of the local Community Service Office (CSO) which are informal structures that provide social services to the community. The project works with five of the most important organizations that deal with AIDS in the province in order to include among their activities, services that are accessible and adapted to the needs of people with disabilities, and to promote behavioral change at a community level, fighting stigma and discrimination.
In the two districts there have been created groups of psychosocial support and exchange of information and discussion, the groups are composed of people living with HIV or disabled that – having followed a specific training – offer at a community level advisory services and support to people with disabilities, their families and people with HIV. In parallel, courses have been organized in support of about 1,000 people with disabilities and living with HIV, their families and their caregivers.