Although crises do not always lead to an increase in HIV infections, people caught up in armed conflict will always be at greater risk. Unfortunately, national HIV prevention strategies most of the time do not include these people. However, it would be useful to include HIV and AIDS in the planning of emergencies. It is noted that prolonged war and emergencies present a massive challenge for HIV and AIDS planning across the world.
Africa is experiencing unprecedented levels of human displacements which leads to the increase of refugees and Internally Displaced People. This precipitates the need for health services which includes dealing with sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDS. Additionally, PLWHIV are particularly susceptible to effects of insecurity.
At the International Conference on Migration, director of AJAN Fr. Elphege Quenum made a presentation about his organization’s plans to get involved in the refugee crises in Africa and doing what his organization does best: offer sensitization on HIV and AIDS. The conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya on January 20th to 22nd 2020. It was organized by the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network. Titled “Migrants, Refugees, Human trafficking and HV & AIDS”, Fr. Elphege’s presentation detailed the huge challenge refugees face and why interventions on HIV and AIDS in Africa must strive to address the needs. “Underlying challenges include; low income sources, loss of livelihoods and shelter, poor housing, violence as well as rape as a weapon of war” he added.
There is no doubt that displaced Africans are among the vulnerable groups that AJAN targets for assistance. Therefore, AJAN plans to join forces with the Jesuit Refugee Service who work in refugee camps in order to advance the battle against HIV and AIDS. This way AJAN will undertake to provide HIV and AIDS training services through programs such as AHAPPY.
AHAPPY, a poster project of AJAN, will be integrated into existing programs on the ground to help build informed conscience among refugee youth as a front against HIV. This work by AJAN will be within the confines of the Jesuit focus defined by one of Apostolic Preferences which stipulates; “To walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice…” Refugees are definitely vulnerable, needing every help they can get. This is a contribution of AJAN to the global community effort in finishing the HIV virus by 2030.