Background Mizoram shares an international border with Burma and Bangladesh. HIV prevalence rate is 0.81% making it the 3rd highest HIV prevalent area in India. With more than 90% of the 1 million inhabitants Christians, policies of the Presbyterian Church is as important and effective as the local government in fighting HIV. Grace Home is a 30 bedded hospice under the Mizoram Presbyterian Church The first hospice in Mizoram for HIV and palliative care.
Methods A 2 hours programme called ‘Friends on Fridays’ was initiated in Feb.2011 at Grace Home. Held every alternate Friday, along with local PLHIV networks, old patients, inpatients and NGO’s, we invite church leaders especially members of youth fellowships - Presbyterian, Baptist, Salvation Army etc. from different localities of Aizawl. Various issues related to HIV like - ART drugs, adherence, CD4, misconceptions, stigmas and discriminations, palliative care, STI’s are addressed. The importance of condom promotion is imparted in a gentle manner. Condom demonstration is also done to reduce stigma. Talks on various STI besides HIV when having unprotected sex.
Results Over a one year period from Feb.2011 to Feb.2012, we were invited at 10 local youth Christian fellowships and 21 women fellowships where various issues related to HIV could be shared in churches all over Aizawl. Feedbacks from such meetings have been encouraging with participants sharing misconceptions being cleared, realising importance of condom, and new level of awareness on various STI beyond HIV etc.
Conclusions Issues related to HIV like STI/Condom is still a challenge in a Church dominated region like Mizoram. Being India’s 3rd highest HIV prevalent region coupled with the influx of migrant population, it is crucial that the Church realise the epidemic. Sensitizing key leaders of churches all over Aizawl through ‘Friends on Fridays’ and subsequently the general population, has been very encouraging.
- faith based organization
- limited resource setting
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