People living with HIV/AIDS deserve the chance to live long and productive lives with the help of the current health interventions in the area of HIV and AIDS. The Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention framework developed by the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) and UNAIDS, emphasizes the importance of putting a person living with HIV at the centre of their personal health management and well-being; while tackling both treatment and prevention concurrently. This framework encompasses the timely and uninterrupted treatment and care of patients, creating and providing an environment where people are unafraid of getting tested and counselling; the necessity of meeting the broader health and dignity needs of people living with HIV; as well as the protection and support of their human, sexual and reproductive rights.
In Uganda, this framework has been adopted by the Positive Living Project (PLP) which promotes the Positive Living lifestyle for people living with HIV/AIDS. Under this concept, the Positive Living Lifestyle promotes positive behaviour change and the adoption of a positive prevention lifestyle; which basically means the prevention of re-infection and transmission to other people.It also emphasizes the protection against infection with opportunistic diseases like malaria and diarrhoea which would take advantage of a person’s compromised immune system.
The Positive Living Lifestyle encompasses protecting one’s sexual and reproductive health, delaying HIV disease progression and adopting a shared responsibility approach to protect oneself and one’s sexual partner from re-infection.
As of 2011, there were 145,000 new infections, rising from 128,000 new infections in 2010, according to the 2011 Uganda National HIV/AIDS Indicator Survey.
This project, funded by PEPFAR (US Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has made it possible to avail Basic Care Packages (BCP) to people living with HIV/AIDS to enable them prevent the occurrence of opportunistic infections like diarrhoea, and malaria.The project has been able to avail over 366,000 people living with HIV/AIDS with BCPs. The BCP is a home managed package consisting of a long lasting insecticide mosquito net, a safe water vessel, and WaterGuard tablets to guard against diarrhoea, condoms to prevent re-infection or the infection of other people as well a Z-card detailing the Positive Living Lifestyle translated in over 10 local
Joseph Nsereko, 62, from Kanungu district is a beneficiary of the (BCP). Married in 1978, and blessed with 7 children, he lost his first wife to AIDS in 1996.
“I decided to test and found I was HIV positive. When my new wife tested during a routine antenatal visit she too was positive. We decided to live positively by adopting the positive living lifestyle”.
Joseph’s family are beneficiaries of a (BCP) that includes a water vessel, one mosquito net, Water-Guard tablets, condoms and a lot of information material about living healthy and with dignity when HIV positive.
“In December 2011, we received a replacement water vessel as we had lost the first one. This package has made our lives easier and healthier. We no longer need to boil water because we have water guard that simplifies the process of making water safe”.
Joseph goes on to say the package protects his family from infections such as diarrhea; and has drastically reduced the risk of contracting malaria because they sleep under mosquito nets. “
‘I can’t remember when I last fell sick from malaria. We also use condoms to avoid re-infection,” says Joseph.
The Positive Living lifestyle should therefore be embraced by all partners to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS are able to live long, productive and healthy lives. The project plans scale up to an additional 191 health facilities and 18 new districts bringing the total of PLP implementing sites and districts to 416 and 103 respectively.
Contents of the BCP Kit; People at a Positive Living rally.