The Rivanna/CPAR Partnership: Helping Women with HIV and AIDS
In August 2005, CPAR Tanzania was approached by two women living with HIV. They had just joined the newly established ARV treatment program at Karatu District Hospital, and wanted desperately to learn more about HIV and AIDS. CPAR's community health nurse began facilitating a lively education program, including topics such as living with HIV, human rights, nutrition, gender-based violence, and other areas of reproductive health.
Today, the group has expanded to almost 30 women living with HIV. They meet every Wednesday at the CPAR office and have chosen the name UMATU (Upendo na Matumaini), which means "Love and Hope." Now registered as a Community Based Organization, UMATU is a powerful force for change in a community where the stigma of HIV and AIDs is painfully real.
National AIDS Week 2006 (first week in December) was a defining moment for UMATU. The women chose this week to reveal their HIV status to the greater population of Karatu District. Donning t-shirts and holding banners that read, "Elimisha Jamii Tokomeza Unyanyapaa!" (Educate the Community to Abolish the Stigma!), UMATU members performed a "rap" song that emphasized the human rights of those living with HIV, the importance of coming together as a group to fight the stigma, and the necessity for grassroots funding for HIV and AIDs. More women are now coming forward to join the group. One of the goals of the Rivanna/CPAR Partnership is to increase funding for UMATU's programs.