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Partnering with spiritual leaders in preventing HIV transmission and eliminating stigma


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Samuel Muchoki introduces the Victorian Multicultural Sexual Health Network (MSHN) and discusses the Hand in Hand forum on HIV.

This presentation was given at the Under the Baobab African Diaspora Networking Zone at the International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2014.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Partnering with spiritual leaders in preventing HIV transmission and eliminating stigma

  1. 1. Partnering with spiritual leaders in preventing HIV transmission and eliminating stigma Samuel Muchoki, PhD Sector Development and Policy Adviser Multicultural Health and Support Service (MHSS)
  2. 2. About MHSS • The Multicultural Health and Support Service (MHSS) is a program of the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health. • MHSS works with communities and service providers to prevent the transmission of HIV, hepatitis B and other sexually transmissible infections in migrant and refugee communities in Victoria
  3. 3. Our service activities include: • community education • support for connections • community-led actions • Sector development and capacity building
  4. 4. A cross-sectoral approach to preventing blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections
  5. 5. About MSHN • 3 forums per year • Invite stakeholders to discuss emerging topics • Format: Guest speakers, workshopping, panel discussions
  6. 6. 3rd Mshn forum: • hand in hand: partnering with spiritual and community leaders in preventing HIV transmission in migrant and refugee communities (11th March, 2014) • Guest speakers: Spiritual leaders • Panel discussion • Q and A session
  7. 7. Presentations • HIV epidemic in migrant and refugee communities in Victoria by Carol El-Hayek, Manager, Infectious Disease Surveillance, Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute • In 2013, there were 1,250 new HIV diagnosis in Australia: 55% Australian-born, 42% born overseas, while 13% did not identify their countries of birth.
  8. 8. • In Victoria, South-East Asian men and sub- Saharan Africa women are disproportionally affected by HIV. In both groups, the rate of HIV infection is higher than that of the Australia-born population
  9. 9. • Anglican Church response to HIV in multicultural communities in Victoria by Reverend Stephen Delbridge, Anglican Chaplain, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Coordinator of Anglican Health Chaplains • Islamic perspective on HIV prevention by Lina Ayoubi Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator, Islamic Council of Victoria • Buddhist perspective on HIV prevention by Hojun Futen, Healthcare Chaplaincy Coordinator, Buddhist Council of Victoria • ‘Called to serve’ by Marg Hayes, coordinator, catholic HIV/AIDS ministry
  10. 10. Summary • Concern that many spiritual leaders and communities members do not know about HIV or their vulnerability to the disease in Australia • Shame and guilt about living with HIV or taking care of PLHV • Spiritual leaders expressed a need to be informed on key health related issues on HIV and other blood borne viruses
  11. 11. • Spiritual leaders expressed a need for support in starting the conversation around HIV prevention and eliminating stigma in their congregation. • Representatives from the service sector, particularly those in the BBV/STI sector, expressed a need for more partnership initiatives with faith-based institutions in preventing HIV, proving care and support to PLHV and their families, and eliminate HIV/AIDS-related stigma.
  12. 12. Finding from my PhD • Participants said they had limited support in sexual matters from their spiritual leaders
  13. 13. You cannot talk about it…you can’t ask for information…the Sheikh cannot even tell you… He asks, ‘why are you asking before you marry? You get married them you have this [information]. (Aimie, single, 34 years old, Sudanese born)
  14. 14. Recommendations • Initiating strategic partnerships • Social marketing • Break the silence around HIV stigma • End discrimination against PLHV • The full report is available on our website programs/our_programs_mhss/mshn
  15. 15. Outcome • Follow-up meeting to discuss the tip sheet • Feedback and endorsement of the tip sheet • Tip sheet will be printed out and distributed to faith-based institutions in Victoria. • The tip sheet will also be available for downloading on our website
  16. 16. Conclusion • There is an opportunity for service providers to work in partnership with faith-based institutions to make a real difference in addressing HIV and the debilitating effects of HIV stigma in migrant and refugee communities. • Political commitment from service providers and faith-based organisations.