Membership Spotlight: Aidsfonds

A Spotlight on Aidsfonds

The Power of Self-Care Interventions in the Fight Against HIV

Beginning this month, the Self-Care Trailblazer Group is placing a spotlight on our members and their achievements. Our first monthly spotlight focuses on Aidsfonds – Soa Aids Nederlands, a Dutch non-profit organization working internationally towards a world without AIDS with a focus on the people and regions most affected. Learn more from Alexander Medik of Aidsfonds as he discusses its self-care work as they put the power back in the hands of young people so that they can identify their own health needs, effectively manage their health conditions and access appropriate health technologies.

 Tell us a bit about your organization!

 Aidsfonds – Soa Aids Nederland is a Dutch non-profit organization working towards a world without AIDS, focusing on the people and regions most affected by HIV. We aim to accelerate worldwide HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by piloting and upscaling community-based interventions with governments and local partners. Soa Aids Nederland is the Dutch expertise center on sexual health and AIDS and works in the Netherlands to drastically reduce HIV and other STIs.  

Our mission is a world without AIDS by 2030. For many years, Aidsfonds has played a pioneering role in focusing the AIDS response on populations who are most affected by the HIV epidemic due to stigma and discrimination. We make a stand against injustice and tackle hurdles that others cannot, will not or dare not attempt to overcome, discuss or support

Why does Aidsfonds consider self-care to be a vital part of health care systems?

Self-care is a crucial step to realizing a world without AIDS by 2030 and achieving Universal Health Coverage. Solutions such as condoms, HIV self-testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), self-sampling for STIs and digital health solutions consumer demands to participate in their ownhave led to a greater configuration of self-led HIV prevention, treatment and care possibilities than ever before. Self-care provides even more opportunities for people who are most affected by HIV and who have avoided traditional HIV services for fear of stigma associated with the virus, opening up new options for them to access healthcare on their own from the privacy of their own home, using their phones or through convenient delivery and distribution sources. 

Through the Self-Care Trailblazer Group, Aidsfonds aims to advance the global self-care agenda by bringing in decades of expertise from both from our own center, Soa Aids Nederland, and our local partners from around the world. However, self-care on its own is not a silver bullet for the AIDS epidemic because young people are only able to practice self-care if their autonomy, agency and human rights are upheld. To achieve this, we need socio-cultural and economic change as well as a more intersectional and interdisciplinary approach to global health and development. 

How does Aidsfonds believe self-care can be used in the fight against HIV?

The fight against HIV and AIDS is not a new one. However, finding solutions to this worldwide epidemic has become even more challenging as we face a fight against a global pandemic at the same time. The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that now, more than ever, access to needed services, information, technology and tools are vital in driving healthy outcomes. One way we can find solutions is by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to meet their own health needs through self-care. There are four ways that Aidsfonds is working to do just that:

    1. Digital health and self-care 

    As technology progresses, new opportunities for digital health have become possible. As a part of our digital health and self-care work, Aidsfonds has developed the Stepped Care Model for sexual and reproductive health. This model connects young people to the services that directly meet their needs. When their needs change, the services change with them, optimizing efficiency and quality of healthcare and increasing health outcomes as a result.

    To learn more about our Stepped Care Model, dive in here.

    1. Last-mile delivery & self-care

    Innovative health solutions can make a great impact on reaching remote areas with HIV services. Aidsfonds has partnered with Healthy Entrepreneurs to bring self-care to communities in rural and remote areas. Through this program, community health workers are trained in basic health products and applications using a solar-powered tablet that has educational videos on relevant health topics in local languages.

    These community health entrepreneurs can make a living by selling reliable and affordable high impact products, distributing condoms, offering HIV self-testing and referrals and improving health knowledge in their remote communities. Each of these entrepreneurs have a reach of around 300 households, meaning around 1,500 individuals gain access to self-care services.

    To learn more about the joint work of Aidsfonds and Healthy Entrepreneurs, follow the entrepreneurs’ journeys here or watch our video here!

    1. Pediatric HIV & self-care

    Aidsfonds has also used self-care to ensure that children living with HIV have access to care and can live healthy, happy lives. To do this, we work with community health workers, who play a central role in all four stages of HIV care for children: find, test, start and stay. Learn more about the four stages of our “Kids to Care” model below and check out how it is empowering communities to find and diagnose children living with HIV, as well as practice self-care, here.

    Bringing kids living with HIV to care from Aidsfonds on Vimeo.

    1. Y+ Beauty Pageant

    Before you can take care of yourself, you need to love yourself first. 

 In many places, stigma is rife for young people living with HIV. In an effort to reduce stigma that young people face, Aidsfonds worked with the Uganda Network of Young People living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA) to create the Y+ Beauty Pageant. The contest doesn’t focus on looks, but instead on being a role model for other young people with HIV, being able to advocate for the needs of young people and increasing acceptance and understanding of young people living with HIV in society.

To learn more, check out more on the pageant here

Want to learn more about the ways that Aidsfonds is fighting back against the AIDS epidemic and propelling forward self-care? Reach out to Alexander Medik at amedik@aidsfonds.nl or check out our website for more details