Notes to broadcasters
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HIV and AIDS is a growing problem among people with disabilities. Research indicates that people with disabilities are at equal or greater risk of HIV infection than non-disabled people. People with disabilities are highly vulnerable to sexual violence, and lack access to information, prevention, or treatment and care. Women, adolescents living with disabilities, rural people, women in institutions, and those living in poor urban areas are also at a greater risk of contracting HIV.
Because of the absence of good policies and programs, most people living with disabilities are unaware of how to care for and protect themselves. Many also lack self-esteem, and feel they have no hope of getting married. Consequently, they do not see the need to be tested for HIV or get information about it. Many people living with disabilities are desperate and feel they don’t have a choice when it comes to sex, believing that they must take advantage of any opportunity for it, rather than feeling confident to make good choices. There is also a need to sensitize the broader community about disabilities, as most African countries have poor understanding of disabilities.
Individuals with disabilities face three major human rights abuses that increase their risk of becoming infected with HIV:
- Higher risk of violence and lack of legal protection. People with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence because many lack the ability to defend themselves. With little access to police or legal counsel in some countries, they don’t know where to turn if they are victimized. They also have less access to medical care or servicessuch as psychosocial counseling.
- Lack of education. Children who have disabilities are often shut out of education, including education about sexual health. The World Bank estimates that as many as 97% of individuals across the world with disabilities, and 99% of women with disabilities, are illiterate. Without education on sexual health, an individual won’t know how HIV is contracted or what to do if they have been infected.
- Lack of sexual health information. In general, it is assumed that people with disabilities are not sexually active. In fact, they are just as likely to be sexually active as people without disabilities. But they are less likely to have access to information about HIV prevention or access to preventative methods like condoms.
Poor people are more likely to become disabled because of poor nutrition, poor access to medical care, dangerous housing, and injuries on the job.
The HIV virus can have disabling effects on previously non-disabled individuals and cause significant developmental delays. Individuals who have a disability and whobecome HIV-positive are doubly stigmatized, which reinforces their poverty.
It is important when moving towards an HIV-free world to include those with disabilities, as they are often overlooked.
This script highlights the role of the broader community and of educational institutions in helping people living with disabilities to access information on HIV and AIDS and protect each other from abuse. It also encourages people with disabilities to take part fully in the fight against HIV.
You might choose to present this script as part of a regular health or rural program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please inform the audience that the actors are representing real people who were interviewed for the script.
You could also use this script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own program on this or similar issues in your own area. In your research, you could interview activists, people with disabilities, government officials who deal with issues of HIV and AIDS, and also people living in institutions.
You might consider researching and broadcasting a series of programs on this topic. Other related topics might include:
- what the law says about people with disabilities and HIV and AIDS,
- preventive and security measures for people with disabilities on abuse and HIV, and
- how people with disabilities can fight HIV within their support groups.
Estimated running time: 20 minutes, with intro and outro music
Welcome to the program. Today, we will talk about HIV and AIDS in people living with disabilities. People with disabilities are among those groups of people most at risk of getting this virus. But they have been ignored for a very long time in the fight against HIV and AIDS. This has led people with disabilities to neglect themselves and stop paying attention to anything about HIV.
The program is about being your brother and sister’s keeper in the fight against HIV. I will be interviewing three guests, who will highlight key issues which affect people with disabilities in the fight against HIV and AIDS.I believe that, bythe end the program, you’ll understand what we mean by being your brother and sister’s keeper. In other words, how to be responsible for your brother or sister’s well-being.
With me now is our first guest, who has been trained how to handle people with special needs, and is the head teacher of a primary school which teaches children living with different kinds of disabilities. He will tell us how being our brother and sister’s keeper can help in the fight against HIV and AIDS in people living with disabilities. Welcome. Please introduce yourself.
We have also been talking to parents about the security of those children with challenges. We advise them to be careful about the people who are around their children, and at the same time to report any disabled child who is not going to school to the authorities. Sometimes disabled children develop low self-esteem, leading to not caring when they are abused—and failing to report it. It’s only in school that people with disabilities can learn about their value to the community.
Ms. Joyce Mawiyoo is a single mother who is 55 years old and lives with a disability. Joyce was not born disabled, but had an accident when she was ten years old and injured both legs. She is now the chairperson of people living with disabilities in Kibwezi East sub-county. Here is our conversation.
Most people with disabilities are desperate because no one wants to be associated with us. Most people who visit us or date us for sex come at night when they will not be seen. This situation leaves us with no option other than to take advantage of this opportunity. Women are the ones at most risk. That’s why you will see a disabled lady pregnant, but you will never know her lover.
So governments, human rights organizations, organizations of people with disabilities, and the general community need to work together to create better results in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Parents of people with disabilities should help them to understand that they are human beings with all the rights to enjoy life, instead of simply protecting them.
Finally, it’s your responsibility as a disabled person to know that it’s your health, and every move toward improving your situation starts with you. You can also be your brothers’ and sisters’ keeper by having an HIV test. Even those who come to you secretly need to be protected from HIV.
Our program ends there for today. I am happy we learned together. Bye until next time.
Contributed by: Dominic Mutua Maweu, freelance journalist at www.ruralvoicesafrica.info
Reviewed by:Gail White, Health Promotion Consultant, Cape Town, South Africa.
Sources of information
Reuben Mbwiko, Head Teacher, Mwitasyano Primary School, December 6, 2015
Joyce Mawiyoo, chairperson for people with disabilities in Kibwezi East Sub County, December 7, 2015.
Betty Nzuki, girl living with a physical disability, December 7, 2015
Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada (GAC)