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close this bookConfidential Approach to AIDS Prevention (UNAIDS - Best Practice Digest, 2000, 3 p.)
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Confidential Approach to AIDS Prevention

Summarised from Confidential Approach to AIDS Prevention (CAAP). Report on an education centre on HIV/AIDS information and counselling action research (hotline).

For further information, contact CAAP, PO Box # 11009, Uttara, Dhaka – 1230 Bangladesh

Tel: 880-2-9884266, Hotline: 880-2-9881119, E-mail: caap@citechco.net

Confidential Approach to AIDS Prevention (CAAP) is a Hotline Education Centre, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, providing HIV/AIDS information and carrying out counselling and action research.

The overall goal of the project is to prevent and control the spread of HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh, through awareness creation and social mobilisation. It aims to promote safer sex behaviours and to provide care and support for people with HIV and their families. Its target beneficiaries are: young people between 16 and 30, mainly high school, college and university students; garment workers in factories; slum dwellers; pregnant women attending antenatal classes, and community leaders.

HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh is at the beginning of a fast-growing epidemic which will become a major cause of morbidity and mortality for the adult population and children within the next few years. In Bangladesh, sexual behaviour is a domain of privacy and confidentiality. The initial reaction of rigid Bangladesh society to an open discussion of reproductive health education or education on sex and HIV/AIDS is influenced by myths, misconceptions, taboos and discrimination leading to social rejection. Sex is a forbidden subject for students and teenagers; teachers totally skip the chapter on reproductive health. There is no welcoming place where they can discuss the issue in a free and friendly atmosphere.

Realising the dangers, some concerned women, with expertise in different disciplines, felt the moral responsibility to save young people from the clutch of the deadly disease and formed an organisation to provide a culturally accepted means of providing information, education and skills to prevent it. So CAAP was formed in 1996.

Services

In the centre, the services include providing information and/or counselling anonymously over the telephone, and by post; individual and group education and counselling; crisis counselling and emotional support; anonymous HIV testing and pre/post counselling; capacity building, and clinical services. Callers from all over the country can call the Centre between 9am and 5pm, five days a week (Sunday through Thursday) and can receive information, education, counselling and problem-solving advice. Toll free services cannot be provided by the Telephone and Telegraphic Board in Bangladesh. Letter counselling is also provided in order to offer a cheaper alternative to the telephone and reach a wider population. There is a computerised system of recording and analysing queries.

There is also a mobile unit. A team of communicators trained in the field of HIV/AIDS conduct education/advocacy sessions and disseminate information and counselling to students, garment workers, pregnant women at antenatal clinics, and others. Once a month there are education sessions for students and garment workers and different teaching materials are provided for different levels of literacy. There are demonstrations of condoms and disposable syringes. The effectiveness of such sessions is evaluated by using pre- and post-session questionnaires. There are similar sessions held every week in the city's slums where poverty-stricken, illiterate people are vulnerable to adopting risky behaviours leading to HIV infection.

Health Shop is a family health care initiative; clinical services for any ailments are provided to whoever wants or needs them, for a minimum charge. It includes a Mini Lab which offers free anonymous HIV testing for people with high risk behaviour. It also aims to promote the use of condoms, to encourage behaviour change through counselling and to detect people with positive HIV status and provide them with a supportive environment. The health Shop is open from 9 to 4 during the day, and 6 to 9 in the evenings, five days a week Sunday through Thursday. So far 500 individuals have been tested, and five of them were found to be HIV positive.

Other activities include capacity building programmes for staff, networking with other NGOs, action research and media linkage.