SASOD Embarks on Spectrum Net

SASOD has signed an agreement with the Minsitry of Health in Guyana to embark on a project of educational outreach to men who have sex with men.

The Spectrum Healthnet project with the Ministry of health has the following objectives:

To provide information on HIV/AIDS/STI prevention,care, treatment and support for the MSM population through online fora and other internet-based interventions targeting supporters and constituents of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Guyana by project end.

To promote awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS and STDs among the MSM population using web-based interventions and brochures by project end.

To increase awareness of safe sex practices in the MSM population by project end

The project duration is for 12 months. This project is being implemented through the Health Sector Development Unit of the Ministry of Health.

The activities include :
a) Development of a website
b) Design and Production of brochures
c) Monthly review meetings and focus groups
d) Supporting costs, including the purchase of a laptop

From the Guyana Chronicle of 25 January, 2007
Groups get $82.5M for HIV/AIDS fight

By Neil Marks

AN ORGANISATION fighting discrimination against men who have sex with men, and a church providing hotmeals and remedial training to orphans and vulnerable children, were among 16 community and faith-based groups which yesterday received funding totalling G$82.5M to fight against HIV/AIDS.

The funding comes from the civil society component of the Guyana HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project (GAPCP) which the government signed with the World Bank in May 2004 for US$11M.

This is the third year such organisations are receiving funding, and according to Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, it now adds up to G$203M.

The projects being funded target a wide cross section of the population, in particular those groups classified as vulnerable and high risk. These include in and out of school youths, mining and indigenous communities, farming communities, sport fraternities, persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS (including orphans and vulnerable children), the military, workplaces and persons in different faith-based settings.

The new projects receiving funding are:

** Art of Living – This organisation would provide yoga and counselling for people living with HIV/AIDS to focus on developing self control and improving their physiological well being.

** Dance Alive – This project is modelled after an analogue of “Love Life”, the South African national HIV/AIDS youth band which has been adopted by the Parliament of the country and is strongly supported by the private sector and civil society in that country.

** Project BX – This comprehensive prevention and care programme would be implemented in the Buxton/Foulis area, East Coast Demerara.

** Guyana Labour Union – Some 29 workplaces would be sensitised on issues of stigma and discrimination and HIV/AIDS, working towards the development of workplace policies.

** Ruimveldt Children’s Home – This organisation would provide care and support to children living with HIV/AIDS.

** The Youth Mentorship Endeavour – This project aims at creating role models to mentor smaller groups of young people towards adopting responsible behaviours.

** Sunshine Women and Youth Organisation – This group plans to work with youths in Regions One and Three to develop vocational skills while providing HIV/AIDS education.

** Information for Life – This would be a regular television programme to provide counselling, support and information on how to access services.

** Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association – This programme will provide HIV/STI education, counselling and medical testing to in and out of school youths in Regions Three, Four, Five and Ten.

** Monique’s Caring Hands – In this project, women would be involved in a peer education programme modelled after a programme designed for African-American women. Orphans and vulnerable children will also be supported in this project.

** U & Me Organisation – This project aims at working with youths in Old England, Coomacka and other areas in Linden to address HIV/AIDS and other social issues, such as drug and alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy.

** Lifeline Counselling Services – Through this grant, Lifeline would provide care and support to orphans and vulnerable children in Region Four, such as hot meals, school supplies, tutoring, and computer classes. Lifeline also plans to do skills training and provide nutritional support to people living with HIV/AIDS.

** Roadside Baptist Church – The church plans to give care and support to orphans and vulnerable children in Region Six by providing hot meals, skills training and remedial learning. In addition, it would hold sensitisation sessions with parents and teachers and hold an abstinence rally.

** Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination – SASOD has been given funding to create a website to provide health information and HIV/AIDS education for men who have sex with men. In addition, they plan to develop a closely-monitored heath discussion forum.
** Family Planning Association of Guyana – This organisation will provide education for youths in the lower Pomeroon area and for youth groups in Region Three.

Ramsammy said he was pleased that the funding this year would reach groups in all the 10 administrative regions of Guyana and called on the organisations that have been given funding to be accountable.

He said a national conference with all the NGO’s would be held this year, so instead of competing with each other, they could work together “to reach everyone in Guyana.”

From Stabroek News of the 25 January, 2007

Ministry pumping $85.5M more into NGOs for HIV/AIDS projects
Thursday, January 25th 2007

Within the next two years the Ministry of Health through its Guyana HIV/AIDS Prevention & Control Project (GAPCP) will spend an additional $85.5M to fund sixteen HIV/AIDS-related programmes.

The ministry yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Non-Governmental Organisations which are going to execute sub-projects in various areas across the country, including Buxton/Foulis, Linden, Mabaruma, Berbice and Georgetown. Previously MOUs were signed with seventeen NGOs.

To date 44 projects have been funded by GAPCP, and of the programmes being funded three had been previously assisted. Included in the three are Lifeline Counselling's Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) programme which offers support to OVCs, hot meals to persons living with HIV/AIDS and skills training among other things.

Among NGOs putting up new proposals that were favoured are the Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Spectrum Health Net programme and the Art of Living with its innovative yoga and self-control programme geared towards HIV/AIDS patients.

Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy remarked yesterday that not every project funded in the past had lived up to expectations but there were success stories for some.

"We do not expect that everyone would have the same success but we are hoping everyone will work towards the goals outlined in their proposals. It is not as though we expect to be happy all the time but at least most of the time," Ramsammy said.

He urged the NGOs to execute their projects in a timely manner and expressed hope that the efforts at the community level will be well organised.

The NGOs to receive funding are Lifeline Counselling Services; Roadside Baptist Church; Operation Restoration; Monique's Caring Hands; U and Me Organisation; Sunshine Women & Youth Organisation; Information for Life; The Youth Mentorship Endeavour; Dance Alive, the Guyana Labour Union; Project BX; SASOD; the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association; Rumiveldt Children's Home & Care Centre; Art of Living and the Family Planning Association of Guyana.

SASOD through its pilot project is aiming to promote awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS and STDs among the men who have sex with men (MSM) population using web-based interventions and brochures. They are hoping to achieve this within the next few months.

Joel Simpson, chairperson of SASOD, told Stabroek News they are hoping to target at least 1,000 MSM by September. He said the project does not require physical visibility and offers an online forum where necessary information will be provided. In addition, he said, there will be interactive discussions that will be controlled, moderated and contextual.

According to Simpson, SASOD decided to get involved in the project because of the homophobic climate in the society. He said homophobia increases the vulnerability of MSM who are a high-risk group.

"They are invisible to many HIV/AIDS programmes but that is going to change with the introduction of Spectrum Health Net because we are catering for the sensitive issues but utilising a different strategy," Simpson said.

The Art of Living project aims to strengthen the defence systems of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) to combat the virus while building their confidence and spirit to live life fully and meaningfully. Additionally, it aims to sensitise youths and adults on the HIV/AIDS virus and reinforce human values such as caring and sharing.

This will be done via 8-day workshops for PLWHA and 5-day sensitisation workshops for youths and adults with regular weekly follow-ups for all categories.

Rolinda Kirton of Art of Living said the course uses gentle yoga, intensive breathing techniques and profound knowledge to build physical and mental strength while infusing the spirit to fight back. It also engenders a sense of belonging so that all participants see the uniqueness of each individual. (Iana Seales)
Tags: HIV/AIDSSexual HealthNewspaperStabroek NewsGuyana ChroniclePrevention