A week to celebrate the World AIDS Day

For celebrating 1st December, the World AIDS Day, ANSS has organized a week of awareness-raising campaign, which was also an occasion for people to get voluntarily and anonymously tested.-By Joanna Nganda

A bus driver who is getting voluntarily tested at Kamenge.©Iwacu

A bus driver who is getting voluntarily tested at Kamenge.©Iwacu

During the 15 campaigns organized under this year’s national theme “Together to accelerate the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission, and universal access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) by 2015 in Burundi”, the priority target groups of ANSS have had the opportunity to talk about HIV and get voluntarily and anonymously tested. The campaigns have taken place throughout Bujumbura and mainly aimed Batwas at Buterere, people with disabilities at Jabe’s National Center of Socio-professional Reinsertion, and finally Kamenge’s bus drivers.
It is worth noting that during that week of awareness-raising campaign; a hundred people have been voluntarily tested among which approximately …% of them were found HIV-negative. Also, during the campaign to celebrate the World AIDS Day, 600 lubricating gels, 350 Femidoms (Female Condoms) and 11,232 condoms were distributed to promote prevention against HIV. For closing the week dedicated to the World AIDS Day, ANSS has inaugurated a house rehabilitated in favor of HIV orphans in Kanyosha. Later, a religious service has been held in memory of the ones who have lost their fight against HIV, followed by the reading of a patchwork made by beneficiaries and members of ANSS. “The concept of the patchwork is very symbolic. It’s a collective work of grief that allows to keep memories of the deceased alive, to keep loving them without denying their deaths”, explains Candide Kayonde, National Coordinator of ANSS. She continues, “Families and friends of the ones who passed away write a thought and/or a name on a white piece of fabric. All those pieces will later be reassembled and sewn together to make a big patchwork. It’s a way to pay tribute to the departed HIV victims.”
Emilienne, an ANSS beneficiary, has appreciated the World AIDS Day activities in general and the patchwork in particular, “I remember when I first received my piece of fabric to write something on a passed away HIV victim, I wrote lyrics of a song my friend liked and tears were running down on my cheeks even though it was years after she passed away. And I remember that I did not cry during her funerals back then. The patchwork is a good way of letting go the pain and remembering the best memories you’ve had with a beloved person,” Emelienne says.
“It’s very painful to lose someone, and it’s scary when it’s due to HIV especially when you are HIV-positive, too.The World AIDS Day is a way to remember our friends and families who passed away, but mostly it is a way to raise awareness in order to limit the number of people who get infected every year. That international day is not a sad day, it’s a time to pay tribute, raise awareness and spread hope”, declares Emilienne.