A provincial antiretroviral therapy nurse, peer educator, and MWENHO peer navigator gather after a training. Photo credit: LINKAGES/MSH
Until LINKAGES Angola developed an instrument to assess a person’s risk for contracting HIV and identify key populations, the Associação de Mulheres Vivendo com o VIH e SIDA, or MWENHO, did not have a way of indicating with certainty if they worked with key populations or not.Through LINKAGES, MWENHO hired peer navigators—persons living with HIV who could mentor others on how to overcome the challenges of starting and adhering to treatment for HIV.
Counselors from Cuidados da Infancia accompany clients to a health facility. Photo credit: LINKAGES/MSH
While civil society organizations in Angola have improved their ability to reach key populations (KPs) through the cascade of HIV prevention and testing services, they faced challenges linking those who test positive to care and treatment. The rate of initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in the first seven months of the LINKAGES Project was only 19 percent (11/53).To improve this rate, LINKAGES began investing in strategies to strengthen the bond between HIV counselors and clients.
In September 2016, peer educator Sonia* was detained along with sex workers at a hot spot where she was conducting outreach on prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. After a long wait at the police station where she and the others were being held, Sonia was finally able to provide proof of her work to the police chief.
Police leaders at a LINKAGES training. Photo credit: LINKAGES/MSH
At the beginning of LINKAGES, peer educator Maria* was training female sex workers (FSW) on HIV prevention in a busy nightclub in downtown Luanda when police detained her. Maria spent several hours at the police station before she was able to explain that she was an outreach worker with the Associação Beneficente Cristã (ABC) under the LINKAGES Project.