TB and HIV care and treatment increasing stigma and discrimination

Author: Joys Eggins

Viewing Komuniti Tok Piksa poster presentation

Rural dwelling youths and students at the Goroka Secondary School have said that care and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and the humino immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is contributing to stigma and discrimination.

The confusion arises when a person living with HIV might also have TB and family members are advised to keep them separated from everyone else as TB is an air-born disease.

This then contributes to the misconception that persons living with HIV should be kept separate from everyone else as they might contract the disease.

Komuniti Tok Piksa (KTP) researcher John Irum presented this finding at the KTP research presentation seminar at the University of Goroka (UOG) last Tuesday.

Mr. Irum said young people between the ages of 15 to 25 in both the rural and urban settings said that the confusion between care and treatment of TB and HIV was largely caused by misinformation at the main hospital.

Some of the rural dwellers in his study where HIV positive persons who were giving first hand experience as Mr. Irum worked in their community over a period of time.

Also presenting his findings was Robert Kerenga who highlighted that coffee season in Gena village of Chimbu Province, was a driving force of the rapid transmission of HIV in that community.

Mr. Kerenga who was looking at the socioeconomic factors contributing to increase of HIV transmission, said his study showed that the six monthly coffee season meant extra money for alcohol and drug abuse and promiscuous sexual activity.

Mr. Kerenga said that with community consent, his team made a short film of the coffee season and upon showing it to the community itself, people had a lot of discussions about how they should change these behaviors.

Mr. Kerenga said the Gena community saw this screening as a mirror reflecting their community, spot-lighting some critical issues around HIV.

He said there was an immediate effect of the visual research.

Both Mr. Kerenga and Mr. Irum had used audiovisual research techniques, which involved community participation in the research process.

The reflection aspect of the study was a key process of the research technique as communities were able to immediately see the work of the researchers and contribute to recommendations for change.

A total of 15 researchers had used this technique in 12 communities throughout the five Highlands Provinces.

The Komuniti Tok Piksa projects is looking at capturing local narratives around HIV and AIDS in Highlands communities in a pilot study that uses audiovisual tools, reflection and story-telling as a means for community involvement in the research process.

KTP Project Coordinator Verena Thomas said she was impressed with the researchers work and results as many of the researchers were undergraduate students and doing research for the first time.

“The audiovisual results speaks volumes as local participants were sharing their experiences and talking about the issues in depth”, she said.

Ms. Thomas said the presence of community representatives from each community at the presentation both strengthens relationships with those communities and allows them to see the outcomes of the research.

She said the KTP team is returning to selected communities to begin professional filming to expand on some of the powerful stories that have emerged.

More information about the project can be found on their website:
www.yumipiksa.org/ktp

Facilitating a community response at the presentation with Ruti
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