AIDS in SenegalAIDS is the breakdown of the immune system caused by HIV, a virus transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids. This often occurs either by sex or by sharing needles. AIDS leaves patients susceptible to other infections, if untreated, and it is usually fatal. Around two-thirds of the world’s HIV cases occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Senegal has a relatively low infection rate, with around 0.4% of its population living with the disease. However, due to reduced access to medical facilities and significant stigma around the disease, many people do not receive the life-saving care they need. That is why Frontline AIDS has stepped in to help those who suffer from AIDS in Senegal, as well as those who are at risk.

Frontline AIDS Harm Reduction Initiative

Drug users in Senegal are 35 times more likely to contract HIV than those who do not use, and globally 10% of new HIV cases arise from drug use. So, Frontline AIDS is working to combat this dizzying statistic. The organization’s Harm Reduction program functions to help communities by providing life-saving resources for those affected or at risk of HIV. This is accomplished by:

  •  Providing needle exchange services–to take dirty needles out of circulation and provide sanitary options for those who inject drugs.
  •  Advocacy–campaigning for policies that improve treatment and prevent HIV, as well as helping those who face human rights violations due to their HIV status or drug use.
  •  Supporting communities–getting users in touch with services that can help them, such as violence protection organizations.

The Rapid Response Fund

This initiative is in place to support communities and their marginalized members, such as sex workers, all of whom may be impacted by HIV. The organization provides emergency grants to fortify community projects, supporting those with AIDS in Senegal and providing these projects with the tools to support those facing human rights violations.

Globally, the Rapid Response Fund has awarded 500 grants to community projects in over 45 countries, totaling $4.3 million. Without this, many would not receive the crucial care for their condition or may have contracted HIV due to lack of prevention.

Logging Hate Crimes on REAct

REAct is an online system that Frontline AIDS developed to record human rights violations. It logs whenever someone faces problems when receiving care for HIV and serves as a highly useful tool for advocacy.

REAct is important for advocacy as it allows the recording of hate crimes that would have otherwise likely gone unnoticed. These statistics can then be brought to the attention of governing bodies, potentially encouraging policy change and further offering of support to those suffering from HIV.

REAct also adds to the pool of current data on human rights available publicly, allowing an increased understanding of the stigma surrounding HIV.

Introducing Anonymous Support

Due to the heavy stigma surrounding HIV, many are afraid to seek help when they are affected by it. Therefore, Frontline AIDS wanted to make it easier for people to be treated for AIDS in Senegal.

The organization is providing anonymous online services in which people can connect with services offering support, as well as access to treatment that they may have been afraid to seek in person. This allows the most marginalized groups to acquire the help they need without the fear of the consequences, potentially saving thousands of lives.

Working with ANCS to Support the Community

Frontline AIDS has teamed up with ANCS, another charity aiming to protect the community from HIV, carry out vital prevention and treatment techniques and help those who need it the most. The organization provides crucial services such as HIV testing and antiviral treatments, with another strong focus being the prevention of HIV transmission between mother and child. In 2019, ANCS and Frontline AIDS managed to provide 9,500 people with HIV prevention services across Senegal.

– Annabel Kartal-Allen
Photo: Flickr