Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS Uganda and their support to HIV widows during the COVID-19 pandemic
Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS Uganda (AGHA) is a health and human rights advocacy organization in Uganda dedicated to raising awareness of human rights aspects of health, quality of health and health care for all Ugandans.
With support of IAPO’s COVID-19 grant, AGHA researched on a total of 30 HIV positive widows in Wakiso district that were on treatment at two health centres (Nabweru Health Centre III and Wakiso Health Center III). The goal was to assess the level of resilience, disaster risk reduction, and management of HIV positive widows in the peri-urban setting in Uganda. AGHA aims to replicate lessons learnt and best practices in other project situations, either by scaling up a running project or implementing similar strategies in other areas that we work.
We made respondents comfortable to freely share their experiences, comments and recommendations with us. Those with depression were able to talk to doctors and friends for support. Illnesses and food shortage were the most key effects during COVID-19 reported by these women, and they showed have high levels of resilience during the pandemic. They were counselled that COVID-19 is not a curse, but an infection like any other disease and is preventable and treatable.
AGHA, through this activity, learnt that these widows need to prepare and also be prepared for uncertainties in order not to be hit as hard as they have. Continuous counselling and engagement of these widows, meeting and sharing with each other will help them understand that the death of a partner is unavoidable. Hence, a new experience that needs to be dealt with resilience because they need to take care of their children through extra hard work, and stop blaming themselves for the death of their partners. Most importantly, they need to know the importance of ARVs and seek counselling services in times of challenges.
As recommendation and next steps, widows should form and register groups/clubs and seek for group financial support and start-up capital for sustainable income generating activities. Measures should be put in place to emphasize protection against stigma and discrimination in communities, which is likely to worsen their mental health issues like stress and depression, among others.
AGHA seeks to collaborate with more HIV+ widows from across the country, civil society and non-government organizations, relevant government organs, national and international organizations, funding agencies, and well-wishers in order to support our goal.