Somaliland: SAHAN Intensifies Anti-HIV/Aids Discrimination and Stigmatization Awareness

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By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Instances of ingrained discriminations against people infected with HIV/Aids are gradually receding.

SAHAN ED Anwar A Warsame

According to the Executive director of SAHAN Mr. Anwar Abdirahman Warsame who spoke to the Somalilandsun on the sidelines of the World Aids Day 2012 Commemorations in Hargeisa, the intensification of anti-discrimination & stigmatization awareness raising campaigns are gradually bearing positive results.

Said he, “Somalilanders are now accommodative to their brethren infected/affected with HIV/Aids due to their increased awareness on the virus as relates to infection and transmission”

People living with Aids have continuously encountered massive discrimination from members of society and more specifically from members of their clans and families who are known to have disowned their kin once their positive HIV status is ascertained.

According to the SAHAN ED the discrimination and stigmatization of People infected and living with the HIV/Aids Virus is an act that denies these citizens their basic fundamental rights.

“Stopping the Discrimination against PLWAs might reduce new HIV infections because those already infected will publicly declare their status with fear instead of going underground” says Anwar

While informing that HIV infection is not only acquired through sexual intercourse the SAHAN ED urged Somalilanders to stop assuming that those infected are criminals thus facilitate the ease of livelihoods for those infected and affected as well.

Said he, “Apart from sexual intercourse the HIV virus can be contracted in other ways like breastfeeding, blood transfusion, use of unsterile tools like injections/razor blades etc”

In conclusion Mr. Anwar Abdirahman Warsame the Somaliland HIV Aids Network

-SAHAN Executive director informed that while his network is promoting the cessation of discrimination and stigmatization of citizens infected and living with HIV/Aids it does not support any acts that are contrary to Islamic tenets.

SAHAN which is the only national HIV/Aids network is made up of 120 Non-Governmental organizations that implement diverse activities related to the realization of “Zero new HIV infections, Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness, Zero discrimination” in the country

About -Somaliland HIV/AIDS Network-SAHAN

Mission

Somaliland HIV/ AIDS network mission is to build solidarity among AIDS related organization in Somaliland, strengthen and support the intervention to accelerate HIV/AIDS prevention, Promote care and support to reduce HIV/AIDS and mitigate impact.

BACKGROUND

Since the beginning of HIV/AIDS infection in Somaliland many NGO’s, and CBO’s and other groups have emerged in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic how ever these organizations have struggled to contain the spread of infection due to lack of coordination networking and limited experience and resources .

To certify this problem Somaliland HIV/AIDS Network (SAHAN) a network of all th

e local organizations (100 youth and women member) that addressed HIV/AIDS issues across Somaliland, was formed in December 2003 with the mandate to coordinate and improved the effort of those organizations working with HIV and AIDS in Somaliland regions.

SAHAN has the mandate to play a key role in the expansion of the overall HIV response in Somaliland through Capacity Building, Resource Mobilization, Advocacy and lobby, Networking & Coordination, Monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

Whilst SAHAN Member civil society organizations are increased and their capacity to identify, design, implement and control HIV and AIDS intervention programs in adequate or limited. The network is committed to strengthen and coordinate the existing efforts and resources as well as mobilizing external support from national and international donors. The membership of the network is open to increase in the six regions of Somaliland.

For the instant, SAHAN realized that the best way to respond HIV and AIDS is to coordinate the CSO’s, Business sectors, and traditional/religious leaders in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS spread. Further more, most of the Somaliland community does no get enough HIV/AIDS information and education particularly pastoral community and women.

How ever, SAHAN has the obsession to develop HIV/AIDS prevention strategy with help of community, UN agencies, INGO’s, SOLNAC, LNGO’s and CSO’s, who works with HIV/AIDS.

ORGANIZATIONAL MANDATE

• Capacity Building

• Networking and Coordination

• Resource Mobilization

• Advocacy and Lobbying

• Monitoring and Evaluation

• Care & Support Of People Living with HIV/AIDS.

ORGANIZATIONAL OBJECTIVES

To facilitate the coordinated response to HIV/AIDS by CSO’s in Somaliland

To exchange and to share relevant information of the HIV/AIDS situation, trends and experience in the country and beyond

To strengthen the capacity of HIV/AIDS organizations to design and implement task focused, result oriented, cost effective and sustainable programs.

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