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HIV Lessons in the Uganda Marketplace

The Market Vendors AIDS Project MAVAP programme implements an HIV service model, where all related services are provided by leaders and peer educators.

They are equipped with skills and tools to facilitate the HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and intervention within the market vendor population. The interventions in the market communities have their origins in a visit to St. Balikuddembe (Owino) Market by Angelina Wapakhabulo in 2001.

MAVAP phase one started in December 2004 and ended in December 2007. Under phase one, the vendors were able to access an integrated range of HIV services. These include health information, voluntary counselling and testing, management of sexually transmitted infections and other opportunistic infections, and Anti-Retroviral Therapy, among others.

Role

While MAVAP Phase one covered only three markets, MAVAP Phase two covers 15 markets of which one is in Mukono, about 12km on the Kampala-Jinja Highway.

MAVAP started largely as an HIV prevention project. However, it has since evolved and through partnerships the project now provides a comprehensive range of HIV/AIDS services in the markets.

The organisation aims to establish treatment networks and a referral system in order to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS in the project area.

The organisation uses the Abstinence, Be faithful and Condom use (ABC) strategy together with programmes targeting women and youths to prevent and intervene in the spread of the epidemic. MAVAP is implemented by Development Initiatives International (DII), a locally registered Non Governmental Organisation.

Market communities are part of the informal sector community in Uganda, which comprises over 70% of the workforce. Despite the fact that there are several HIV interventions in the country, HIV services in this sector are still limited. MAVAP was started in 2004 to address this gap.

It uses the main tools of sensitisation of the market communities about HIV/AIDS through trained peer educators, use of the vendors voice, TV and video, as well as networking with other HIV/AIDS service organisations. This is meant to assist the market community in accessing services that are not catered for under MAVAP (e.g access to treatment with Antiretroviral (ARVs) through the Uganda Cares clinic at St. Balikuddembe Market).

Additionally, MAVAP will be continually assessing risky behaviour and environment that contributes to contracting HIV in the market workplace and looking for ways to mitigate the impact of HIV through open discussions.

An ARV treatment centre was opened in the market in 2005 and by July 2006, 1,423 clients had been registered at the clinic at St. Balikuddembe Market. Of the registered clients, 601 are already on ARV treatment. MAVAP is a follow-up to a pilot HIV/AIDS project that was implemented at St. Balikuddembe Market in 2003/2004.

By Joyce Nyakato
The New Vision Newspaper
29 May 2012

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