Burkina Faso: women help stop the spread of HIV and AIDS

26 Jan 2011

Women from the rural village of Gassan attend
an informal discussion on HIV/AIDS.
(Photo: UNDP)

Burkina Faso - 27-year old Assiétou was pregnant with her third child when she discovered that she was HIV positive.

“I thought it was the end of the world,” she recalls. “I immediately thought about my husband and I was very worried about his reaction. In the end, I summoned up all my courage and went to talk to him.”

Assiétou’s husband, Laouali, immediately agreed to go to a voluntary screening centre, where he found out that he is also HIV positive.

Today, they both receive free treatment from the UNDP Support Programme for Associations and NGOs (Programme d’appui au monde associatif et communautaire) otherwise known as PAMAC.

The broad-based programme was set up by UNDP in 2003 on request from the National AIDS Council. It is made up of 142 civil society organizations and six national networks working to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country. This nationwide mobilisation has helped reduce the HIV and AIDS prevalence rate from 7 percent in the 1990s, to 2 percent in 2007.

Assiétou was tested thanks to a group of women volunteers who are part of the PAMAC network, and who conduct informal discussions with people living in different villages about the risks of HIV.

They also organise plays and film screenings followed by debates, raising issues such as the importance of wearing a condom, HIV testing and preventative action.
Assiétou and Laouali are among tens of thousands of Burkinabé who have benefited from PAMAC’s nationwide work to raise public awareness on HIV and AIDS.

Since January 2009, 175 women’s groups have been involved in 1,345 educational sessions, reaching some 150,680 people, more than half of whom are women. 1,560 people have received HIV screening tests, and 30 individuals who tested positive are currently receiving treatment in the areas covered by the women.

More broadly, in addition to these advocacy efforts, during 2010, the PAMAC network provided increased access to information, counseling and testing services, and home-based care to more than 74,000 HIV patients - almost half of whom are orphans and disadvantaged children.