Albeit the Jesuit-founded Centre Social Arrupe (CSA) endeavours to lastingly tackle the issues affecting the poor in Madagascar; economic, political, socio-cultural and religious, it is also involved the Jesuit war on HIV and AIDS.

Through Pastoral Health and Family Program, CSA partners AJAN in reducing the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the Malagasy island. In this connection, from 30th September up to 4th October, AHAPPY workshop was held in Antananarivo bringing together 35 participants from various Jesuit organizations from the expanses of the country. The organizations represented were; St. Michael Amparibe, FET, MDMK, ACUT, FIM, AIM, SAMIS ESIC, Amborovy, Malaza, DINEC, St. Philipes et Jacques Tanjombato, Soavina, ITSFX Antady Fianarantsoa, ITSA Fianarantsoa, CIC Mananjary, Ecoles Secondaries, LTB Bevalala, ETB Bevalala, PSP Tsamasoandro and TAMPIKRI. CSA itself also had seven of their staff trained.

High profile attendance

The Secretary to the Cabinet in charge of Health was in attendance, a great honour to CSA and AJAN, but also signifying the focus placed on fighting the epidemic in Madagascar currently. Once considered unscathed by the scourge due to its physical detachment from the African continent and restrictive interaction between the two, Madagascar has seen a concerning turn as according to UNAIDS Data 2017, a 54% increase in rate of infections between 2010 and 2017. Truck drivers, partly blamed for proliferation of the disease in the African continent, did not find their way into the island. The minister highlighted the importance of creating awareness, reducing stigma and discrimination as needful actions that must be taken by all in Madagascar. He also reiterated the government’s commitment in providing treatment and awareness creation.

People are apathetic towards testing for HIV

As by the UN agency’s factsheet of 2018, the percentage change in rate of infection from 2010 was 193. Deaths related to HIV and AIDS increased by 22%.  Most astoundingly, only 4200 people out of 39000 (30000-55000) have been tested for HIV. This reveals the huge number of people that take knowledge of their status as child’s play and stay away from it.

Besides the antipathy towards testing, service provision remains lopsided against PLWHIV. Indeed, a medic who participated in the AHAPPY training conscientiously revealed how she has witnessed people die of the disease due to segregation in the medical services domain in Madagascar. Only 7% of the infected have access to medical support.

CSA’s Pastoral Health and Family Program has a project known as Education for Life and Love (EVA) is youth-centred and is growing among Jesuit social centres in Madagascar and beyond and hence the correlation and partnership with AJAN’s AHAPPY program.

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