Yesterday, December 1, was the World Aids Day. As part of the commemorations for this important day, JAMES CHIMPWEYA talked to deputy coordinator of Mayi Aisha Sisters and Youth Aids Programme (MASYAP) Jean Mamo who reflects on the fight against the scourge.
Can you briefly tell us why MASYAP was established
MASYAP was established to assist Muslim women to come out in the open in the fight against HIV and Aids because for quite a long time they had been lagging behind in this fight. They were suffering in silence. It is from this background that Mai Aisha Sisters and Youth Aids Programme (MASYAP) was established in 2008 with the aim of educating Muslim women and youth on the dangers and prevention of HIV and Aids. It was also established to provide care and support to those infected and affected by the pandemic.
December 1 is the World Aids Day. How important is this day to MASYAP?
MASYAP joins the rest of the world in fighting the spread of HIV and Aids and mitigate its impact by reducing the further spread of the disease. We are also committed to combating stigma and discrimination and help reduce Aids-related deaths among members. The programme endeavours to improve knowledge, attitudes and practices.
Since MASYAP was established, what have you been doing in fighting HIV and Aids?
Since 2008, MASYAP has been supporting women and the youth through community outreach programmes, home-based care volunteers that include people living with HIV and Aids to effectively respond to the challenges of the disease. The support groups act as vehicles for outreach programmes which facilitate and coordinate activities at the grassroots level. Through such support groups, MASYAP has carried out activities such as workshops on different topics like reproductive health; HIV and Aids sensitisation and discussions with Muslim couples; prevention of mother to child transmission; training in home-based care; distribution of nutritional foods as well as training sheikhs and other Muslim leaders in HIV and Aids issues.
What are your final thoughts on the issue?
Mai Aisha Sisters and Youth Aids Programme believes that it is the duty of everyone to acquire knowledge about HIV and Aids. People who lack knowledge about HIV and Aids usually have fear in their minds against the victims of the disease. Because of ignorance and fear of social stigma, Aids patients and their relatives sometimes hide their HIV status. Our aim to get zero discrimination and zero Aids-related deaths.