Accelerating Access to HIV Services--the Cameroon Agenda for Sustainable Development Model
75 per cent of the 36.9 million people world-wide living with HIV are aware of their status.
That means 25% of those affected do not even know they are HIV positive! Every week, around 7000 young women aged 15–24 years become infected with HIV, and approximately 9.2 million people remain undiagnosed. Those who go undiagnosed are at risk of not receiving preventive, quality care. In Cameroon, the HIV prevalence is as high as 4.1 per cent.
Increased access to screening remains a high priority as the world accelerates actions towards an AIDS-free generation. It’s against this backdrop that the recent World AIDS Day 2018 focused on HIV testing. Timely knowledge of status allows infected people to seek early treatment, and the uninfected to prioritize preventive options to stay HIV-free. If all adolescent girls get tested for HIV and test results stay negative while HIV-positive girls make informed choices about their sexual & reproductive health, new pediatric HIV infections might be eliminated and an HIV-free generation be born.
Plentiful barriers limit access to HIV testing services, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where a greater burden of the disease lies. Barriers include community stigma and discrimination, lack of confidentiality and privacy, distance to health facilities, long waiting times, and services that are not friendly to adolescents.
For over five years, Cameroon Agenda for Sustainable Development (CASD) has invested in finding and testing solutions to these barriers to HIV testing. Its signature HIV-free Generation Ice-cream Project launched in 2015 has proven successful, granting access to over 15,000 adolescent girls in the marginalized Anglophone community in the North West Region of Cameroon. By designing an adolescent-friendly space for sexual and reproductive health services in the likeness of an ice-cream truck, adolescents freely access HIV testing same way they would access a scoop of ice cream.
In collaboration with the Cameroon Ministry of Public Health, the project moves around the community daily to bring access to stigma-free, adolescent-friendly, quality HIV education and screening. More on this model can be learned at www.casdcam.org.
Despite enormous success, the project is still at risk of underachieving. The ongoing civil war in the targeted community has changed the dynamics of the terrain, demanding more resources to reach adolescents in humanitarian settings. An additional $10,000 is needed to reach the goal of HIV testing and services for all who want it in 2019. Your donation can make a real difference.
The project has truly guaranteed confidentiality, privacy and stigma-free services for all clients. Still, some potential beneficiaries are held back by the fear of being stigmatized. CASD is currently researching HIV self-testing services to further eliminate the fear of stigma for those who need testing and treatment. ViiV Healthcare, Global Force for Healing, and individuals have generously supported this progress. You too can be a part by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you from our Team and the youth of Cameroon!