Living burden free with HIV

Being diagnosed of HIV is not an easy thing for many people. For some, it seems like the end of the world. For others, it is loss of hope. Being found to be HIV positive is different from diagnosed with other diseases, because HIV posesses a moral quotation. As such, those that are diagnosed with HIV can either stigmatize themselves or face stigma from others. Psychosocial support usually is required for somebody who is HIV positive to cope with various challenges. That is why COWLHA started support groups for women and girls living with HIV and AIDS in Malawi in 2006. COWLHA focuses more on women, because in Malawi like elsewhere, HIV wears more of a female face than a male one.

Through the support groups, COWLHA provides capacity building to women and girls living with HIV such as nutrition aspects, community resilience to climate change, socio-economic empowerment, SRHR issues such as family planning, prevention of vertical HIV transmission from mother to child, adherence to treatment and treatment literacy. All these programs are meant to equip women and girls living with HIV to cope with various challenges. COWLHA also targets the wider community with various messages. Some messages are deliberately targeted for people of a certain class to fight HIV stigma and discrimination as this undermines the dignity of women and girls living with HIV and discourages disclosure. The fight against HIV stigma and discrimination is individual as well as multi-sectoral.

Friends and Family of those Living with HIV

When one is diagnosed HIV positive, it is usually shocking news to entire family members. The family members either support the person morally or begin to stigmatise him or her. Many COWLHA members have faced stigma and discrimination from family members. As such COWLHA s programing targets close family members as these play a crucial role in care and support.