QASA'S ROLLING POSITIVE PROGRAMME
The QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) currently is undertaking an assessment programme evaluation to inform decision-making about the further roll out of the programme.
Amongst the challenges identified are lack of expertise in working with persons with visual, hearing and/or mental impairments and insufficient buy-in from strategic partners.
The strengths of the programme include that it is run by persons with disabilities for persons with disabilities and includes specific information and education as to why persons with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to HIV and TB infection. Between the launch of the programme in July 2010 and the end of September 2012, the programme had reached 39 545 persons with disabilities with HIV prevention messages, trained 392 persons with disabilities as Peer Supporters and provided education and awareness workshops for 1 315 persons with disabilities and their families and caregivers in HIV, AIDS, STIs and TB.
A further strength is that the Peer Supporters are community-based and are spread across seven provinces, many in areas of deprivation.
The Rolling Positive programme is aimed at a most-at-risk population, via persons with disabilities, who are regarded as a group who are most likely to be exposed to HIV or to transmit it. The programme places emphasis on behaviour change communication and the provision of community-based sexual reproductive health information, education and communication and contributes to the National Strategic Plan on HIV, AIDS, STIs and TB for 2012 - 2016.
In planning for phase II, the programme seeks the inclusion of persons with disabilities from all sub-groups within the sector even if this means training non-disabled persons with special skills in communicating with and training persons with visual, hearing and/or mental impairments.
In terms of creating more sustainable partnerships, the programme needs to further develop relationships with Local, Provincial and National government departments, for example the Department of Health, Department of Social Development and Department of Education, as well as other major role-players within the sector.
Observing World Aids Day
Additionally, we observe World AIDS Day on 1 December and this year's theme is WORKING TOGETHER FOR AN AIDS-FREE GENERATION.
The QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) is actively involved in promoting participation by its members in activities associated with these special events on the calendar.
Those who ascribe to the general view that disabled people don't have sex would ask why they would be concerned about HIV and AIDS.
Society does not think of us first and foremost as sexual beings preferring to consider us as objects of care, somebody one has to be nice to. Disabled people often are seen as sick. Sick persons are not expected to have a regular life with social responsibilities such as work. Sick people are definitely not expected to start a family, (Sexuality and people with disabilities: What experts often are not aware of; Adolf Ratzka; 1998; Independent Living Institute). guidance note; 2009).
"QASA is proud of the achievements of its Rolling Positive programme, which is funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria," says Ari Seirlis, QASA CEO.
Initially, the programme aims to reach persons with disabilities, families and caregivers through two-day Education and Awareness workshops in HIV/AIDS/STI/TB.
Out of the participants in these workshops, QASA works with partner organisations to identify suitable persons with disabilities who will undergo further training as Peer Supporters.
The eight-day Advanced Skills workshop aims to train persons with disabilities as Peer Supporters to provide basic sexual reproductive health services to persons with disabilities in the communities in which they live. It is a programme for people with disabilities by people with disabilities and seeks with limited resources to reach people with a wide range of disabilities.
Since its launch in July 2010, more than 1,400 persons with disabilities and their families and caregivers have participated nationally in Education and Awareness workshops and the programme has trained more than 450 Peer Supporters that will be utilised to reach out to persons with disabilities in various parts of South Africa.