The Jesuit-founded Center Social Arrupe (CSA), which endeavours to lastingly tackle the issues affecting the poor in Madagascar; economic, political, socio-cultural and religious, is also involved in the Jesuit war on HIV and AIDS.
Through Pastoral Program for Health and Family, CSA partners AJAN in reducing the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in Madagascar. In this connection, from 30th September up to 4th October, a AHAPPY workshop was held in Antananarivo bringing together 35 participants from various Jesuit organizations from the expanses of the country. The training sessions were provided by Father Elphège Quenum SJ., Director of AJAN and Pascalia Sergon, Programs Manager, AJAN.
The participants in the sessions came from the following institutions; Magis Jesuit Universities, secondary schools, Catholic education institutions, public colleges and high Schools, Chaplaincy and spiritual movement and Arrupe Social Center.
The Secretary to the Cabinet, representing the Minister in charge of Health, attended the last session of the training signifying the focus placed on fighting the epidemic in Madagascar presently. Once considered unscathed by the scourge due to its physical detachment from the African continent, Madagascar has seen a concerning turn as according to UNAIDS Data 2017, there has been a 54% increase in rate of infections between 2010 and 2017. 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 do not take knowledge of their HIV status seriously.
Besides the antipathy towards testing, service provision remains lopsided against PLWHIV. Indeed, a medic who participated in the AHAPPY training 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.