“African Jesuits’ move towards an AIDS free generation in Africa”
Fr. Elphège Quenum,
Director, African Jesuit AIDS Network
According to UNAIDS 2018 statistics, about 36.9 million people globally were living with HIV in 2017. In Sub-Saharan Africa which is home to 19.4 million people living with HIV (PLWHIV), young girls and women are mostly affected. For instance, three in four new HIV infections are among girls aged 15–19 years while young women aged 15–24 years are twice more likely to be living with HIV than men.
African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) coordinates Jesuit efforts of more than 14 field projects spread across African continent in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa. One key program is the AJAN HIV and AIDS Prevention Program for the Youth (AHAPPY). Developed by AJAN, AHAPPY Program is guided by the Christian values and Ignatian spirituality. The program seeks to contribute to reduced HIV infection amongst youth in Africa by promoting value-based education for HIV prevention. AHAPPY program is presently implemented in seven countries (Burundi, Central Africa Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Togo and Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, and Madagascar).
“I came to fully discover my identity and the ability to overcome my daily challenges because of the mentorship I received through the program” said Emma, who is one of the beneficiaries of AHAPPY program at St. Joseph Technical College in Kangemi, Nairobi. Emma represents thousands of inspired youth across Africa who have benefited from the program.
Apart from AHAPPY Program, in July 2018, AJAN participated at the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Dubbed “Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges”, the conference brought together delegates from all over the world to contemplate on HIV and AIDS as a global public health issues in the world. The conference intends to strengthen the battle against HIV and AIDS by reaching out to those left behind. The conference also provides a rich and interactive forum for the intersection of science, advocacy, and human rights and enables sharing on best practices.
AJAN continues to create new and strengthen its existing partners so as to advance HIV and AIDs efforts in Africa. For example, AJAN is proud to have secured funding from partners such as Fordham University, Jesuit Conference in USA, Nurnberg Prokur, Mainguy Family, OMCFAA Foundation in France, Missio Aachen, Misereor, Miva and Taiwanese Embassy and successfully linked partners to field projects such as Centre d’Information d’Education et d’Ecoute in Bangui in Central African, OCER Campion Jesuit College in Uganda, Centre Maisha in DRC Congo, Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Uzima and Upendo Programs in Kenya amongst others. Mobilized resources continue to support implementation of HIV and AIDS activities across regions with Jesuit presences in Africa.
Despite the progress made, the fight against HIV and AIDS still faces multidimensional challenges including dwindling international funds to support AJAN Field Projects. Nonetheless, AJAN is grateful to the unwavering commitment of our partners and collaborators. With a renewed zeal, we must keep going on to empower our people who are infected and affected with HIV and AIDS so that they can all live a full life. That remains our vision.