Campaigns volunteer Catherine Orchard takes a look at the work Progressio is supporting to raise awareness about HIV and Aids ahead of World Aid’s Day 2012, this Saturday 1 December. 

“HIV is exacerbating the problems people living in poverty already face,” Philemon Handinahama told Vatican Radio during a recent interview. He went on to explain that “Progressio is working with a network of different churches in rural areas [of Zimbabwe] to support people there with HIV who are more isolated.” 

Philemon is a Progressio Development Worker in Zimbabwe, working with the National Faith-Based Council of Zimbabwe to promote the role of church leaders in tackling HIV and gender issues such as domestic violence.

Progressio believes that people living with HIV have the right to receive adequate care and support. Our projects work to eliminate the stigma and marginalisation of people living with, and affected by, HIV. 

What are we doing?

From Development Workers to ICS volunteers, Progressio is supporting people in raising awareness about HIV…

Zimbabwe: “The impact of HIV goes beyond the individual. It affects the whole community,” says Yvonne Muigua, a Progressio ICS volunteer, reflecting on the severe medical and social impacts of HIV in the Nyanga district of Zimbabwe. The group of ICS volunteers Yvonne was part of worked with The Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP), and at the Regina Coeli Mission Hospital where Yvonne got the chance to speak to staff about their experiences, and hopes, surrounding HIV whilst working alongside them on the initiatives these organisations are using to combat the pandemic.

Timor-Leste: In September, Freddie Mawanda started his placement at the National Aids Commission (NAC)of Timor-Leste based in the capital city Dili. This is the first placement Progressio have ever had within a government agency in Timor-Leste - something Freddie is very pleased about. "This is a very good placement," he says, "because it develops links with government and opens up opportunities for advocacy and creates good contacts on a personal level.”

Malawi:  Langton Mtumodzi is a village headman and a bishop ministering in the African Abraham Church – he is also HIV positive. “I preach against stigma and discrimination, and I also bring families together and offer them counselling,” he says. Rob Trask visited Malawi in September as one of Progressio’s finalists in the Guardian’s International Development Journalism competition. Rob was impressed by the inter-faith approach people in Malawi are taking toward tackling HIV. “On the approach to the church one morning we stop to pick up a Christian pastor who is walking with two female Islamic leaders,” Rob said, “If this wasn't novel enough, the subject for today's meeting is HIV/AIDS.” Illustrating how people of different faiths are uniting to address common problems.

Why stop now?

There has been a lot of progress in the 30 years since the virus was first identified, but we want to keep the momentum going so that people everywhere affected by HIV can lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. This is why it is time to tell governments around the world, including the UK’s, to make HIV a priority for investment. 

You can take action now by signing the Why Stop Now? letter addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron, to show your support for the Stop AIDS Campaign this World AIDS Day.

Photo: ICS Volunteers Yvonne and Charlee talking about HIV in a classroom in Zimbabwe