By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun – UNDP is working with the Somaliland National AIDS Commission (SOLNAC) to strengthen coordination of HIV and AIDS prevention and awareness efforts across Somaliland.
According to the2010 HIV/Syphilis Sentinel Survey among women attending ante-natal care (conducted by IOM in WHO, SOLNAC, and the Ministry of Health and Labour), Somaliland’s HIV prevalence rate is 1.13% of the population. However, due to a lack of accurate HIV data in the area, this rate may be much higher.
Raising awareness on the issues and ensuring equal legal treatment is critical to protecting the rights of those affected by HIV and AIDS and mitigating the impact of the disease.
Recognizing the importance of a well-trained rule of law sector to protect the rights of those living with HIV, UNDP supports a legal environment that promotes human rights and a law enforcement system that does not discriminate against those living with the disease. UNDP provides trainings and support to police units to raise awareness and to mainstream HIV and AIDS into law enforcement work. In 2013, UNDP trained 40members of the Special Protection Unit (SPU)and 150 police womenon HIV and AIDS and the protection of human rights for those living with HIV. The training provided accurate information on risks, transmission, and prevention methods and addressed myths associated with HIV and AIDS, in order to reduce stigma and stop discrimination.
In Somaliland, those living with HIV are heavily stigmatized, and are often reluctant to seek treatment, even where it is available. To help combat discrimination, UNDP and SOLNAC are working to mainstream the HIV and AIDS response at institutional and community level and to ensure that national policies and strategies include prevention and protection components.This includes raising awareness through community dialogues, media advocacy and integrating HIV and AIDS programmes into national planning.
Improving the lives of those living with or affected by HIV and AIDS is about more than providing medical care. It is also critical that the public knows more about HIV and AIDS, and people living with HIV are treated equally and fully accepted in society. By improving their economic, social, and cultural environment, UNDP and SOLNAC can change the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS and help reduce the number of new infections through outreach and awareness.