Pius Tih Muffih, PhD, MPH, Joseph Wepnje, Mary Bumuh, Florentine Mantho, Godlove Nkuoh, George Ndikintum, Josephine Kidio, Lydia Ngah, Dennis Palmer, DO, Edith Welty, MD, and Thomas Welty, MD, MPH. Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board, PO Box 1, Bamenda, Cameroon, 237-776-4781, Piustih@aol.com
Purpose: Discuss the importance of support groups of HIV positive mothers and fathers in promoting human rights and public health.
Data used: The Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board (CBCHB) PMTCT Program, supported by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, began in February 2000 at 2 rural hospitals and, by January 2006, had screened over 104,000 women (8.6% were positive) in 175 facilities in six of the 10 provinces in Cameroon. In 2001 the first support group of nine HIV positive mothers met and we report on the expansion of the support groups and services provided through them.
Methods: The CBCHB PMTCT Program organized support groups of HIV positive mothers (N=50) and fathers (N=4) to promote sharing of experiences and to provide psychosocial and spiritual support and the following medical services:
1) education on nutrition, maternal and infant health 2) vitamin supplementation to all members. 3) prophylaxis of pneumocystis carnii pneumonia for those whose CD4 count is <500 and for HIV-exposed babies from 6 weeks until they are confirmed as HIV negative. 4) family planning counseling and condoms 5) CD4 testing and assessment for antiretroviral therapy
Results: By January 2006, 1644 HIV positive women and 171 HIV positive men had joined support groups and we had trained 84 peer educators. Support groups empowered members to advocate for rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and to reduce stigma.
Recommendations: Support groups are an efficient way to deliver services to PLWHA and help to reduce stigma and discrimination.
Keywords: HIV Interventions, Human Rights
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA