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Drishtikon - Conferences

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‘Conferences for Outreach Workers and Peer Educators in the Field of HIV/AIDS’ (August 2002 & November 2003)
Concept
In the absence of Cure or Vaccine for HIV/AIDS it is needless to say that Behaviour Change among vulnerable section is the only way the spread of HIV infection can be contained . Mass media can play a limited role in reaching out to them but the perception of self being at risk resulting in a positive behaviour change thereafter, can only be brought about by person to person contact and repeated counseling. This indomitable task is carried out by the outreach workers of any organization working for prevention of HIV/AIDS. In other words, major part of the success of AIDS control programme could be attributed to the dedication and commitment of these grass root level workers, who are generally ignored and left out of the applause coming to the organization.

To address this important need of providing visibility to the valuable contribution made by these invisible crusaders, to the cause of HIV/AIDS prevention and to provide a platform to facilitate mutual sharing of their experiences.Drishtikon organized two conferences for them.
  1. First State Congress of Outreach Workers/Peer Educators in the field of HIV/AIDS
    A Two–days State level conference organized at Vishwa Yuvak Kendra, New Delhi from 28–29th August 2002. Around 50 outreach educators from different NGOs of Delhi participated in the conference.The conference was sponsored by NACO.

    Following are some important Issues that were brought out by the Outreach Workers/ Peer Educators attending the Conference
    • Denial and resistance in the communities is still persisting in spite of so many years of work by the Govt and the NGOs.
    • Focusing on particular communities through the targeted interventions has resulted in discrimination and stigmatization of these groups as a result of which the outreach workers working for HIV/AIDS prevention face a strong resistance from these particular sections of society
    • There are rampant myths and misconceptions related to sexual health issues, prevailing in the community. The peer educators find it difficult to handle these issues. They felt they need suitable training on sexual health to handle these issues.
    • The outreach workers and peer educators themselves feel discriminated as soon as they start the work in this field. In addition to fighting against HIV/AIDS they also have to fight the battle on their personal level .
    • Doctors demoralize the HIV +ve people to such an extent that it becomes impossible to boost their moral later
    • Outreach workers felt helpless in dealing with HIV +ve people. They feel that very little care and support services are available for them.
  2. ‘National Conference of Outreach Workers in the Field of HIV/AIDS’
    A three days National level conference was held at Vishwa Yuvak Kendra New Delhi from 20–22 November 2003. Around 50 outreach educators from different NGO s of Delhi and other neighboring states of North Delhi participated in the conference.The conference was sponsored by UNESCO, New Delhi.

    Numbers of noteworthy and rational issues were brought out of this conference deserving to be taken note of by the policy makers.

    ISSUES bought out by the outreach workers at the conference
    Outreach Workers working for different groups face different kind of problems hence these have been compiled under separate heads.

    Commercial sex workers (brothel based)
    • More than one NGO working in the same area leads to duplication of work resulting in differences & rift amongst them. NGOs need to work with mutual cooperation to achieve their objective and avoid any duplication.
    • Raids in the brothels by police make it difficult for Outreach Workers to implement the programme.
    Commercial sex workers (non brothel based)
    • Identification and motivation of Hidden Sex Workers is extremely difficult because of unorganized structure of the activities and double standards practiced by the community.
    • It is difficult to promote Condom use among hidden sex workers because of their peculiar mode of operation.
    Men having sex with men (MSMs)
    • MSMs working as Outreach Workers at times face physical harassment from antisocial elements during their field operation.
    • There is a need of support groups for homosexuals to share their emotional turmoil and marginalization from the mainstream population.
    Migrant workers
    • Regular interaction with the community is required to be made as an ongoing process for better results.
    • Different groups linked with the target groups need to be interacted with for achieving maximum result.
    • Focusing particular group through targeted intervention leads in isolating that particular group from rest of the community resulting in strong resistance from that particular group.
    • The follow up of the HRGs becomes difficult due to floating nature of the target population.
    In general almost all of them felt that
    • IEC material should be refreshed/redesigned from time to time according to need of the target group.
    • Myths and misconceptions regarding sex and sexuality prevailed in the rural community.
    • The Peer Educators feel helpless for being unable to provide social, financial and emotional support to HIV positive people.
    • NGOs need to be given adequate liberty to have the flexibility of service delivery required for qualitative results.
    • NGOs having grass–root knowledge need to be involved by the Policy makers in the process of planning the programmes
    • Peer educators need to be given more incentive to encourage them. This will result in less dropouts and more sustainability.
Outcome of the Programmes
  • Strengthening the NGOs Networking. The Conference demonstrated that the NGOs could work together to achieve the same goals.
  • Raised the self esteem of the Outreach Workers/Peer Educators.
  • Better understanding of the problems faced at the grass root level.
  • Skill building of Outreach Workers/Peer Educators.
  • Capacity building of NGOs.


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