The Foundation for Research on Women's Health, Productivity, andthe Environment (BAFROW) is deeply committed to fighting HIV/AIDS. The main objective of BAFROW's HIV/AIDS project is to contribute towards national efforts at controlling and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS pandemic among women, children, young people and men in The Gambia through the raising of awareness, empowerment and the building and strengthening of capacity, both at institutional and community levels, as well as contribute to support systems with the active participation of beneficiaries.
The project, which uses a holistic (integrated, multidimensional and participatory) approach, empowers women and adolescent girls through the provision of functional education and entrepreneurial skills for improved sexual and reproductive health, and rights and enhancement of their status. It also mobilizes community members (men, women, and young people including PLHIV, raises awareness for the prevention of STIs, including HIV/AIDS using culturally sensitive materials and approaches, provides home-based care for PLHIV, and offers support and services for PPTCT, orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs).
This has been made possible with grants received from the Gambian Government through that National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) for the implementation of the HIV/AIDS Rapid Response Project (HARRP), a Community, and Civil Society Initiative (CCSI) component sponsored by the World Bank; and later on, from the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM).
The project, whose activities is being implemented in phases. Phase one covers cluster villages around the Greater Banjul and KMC, West Coast Region, and in the Lower River Region.
At the start of the project, BAFROW carried out a baseline survey in the Western Region (2003) on knowledge, attitude, and practice related to HIV/AIDS. It was possible to conduct this survey thanks to the funds received from the HARRP. Results included the following:
- Knowledge of the existence of HIV/AIDS was high
- Condom use was found to be low and knowledge on source of supply limited
- Incidence of multiple partners and wife inheritance was quite common
- Very few people did an HIV test and attitude towards testing was low
- Radio and TV were found to be vital sources of information on HIV/AIDS, particularly for the rural communities
During BAFROW's mid-term review in 2005, the following changes were made apparent:
Many people are now coming forward for an HIV test, and attitude towards testing has increased significantly. BAFROW's Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) team has done over 3000 test since its establishment, and has received hundreds of requests for tests from both selected and non-selected communities as well
Radio and TV might be a source of information on HIV/AIDS, but NGOs and other civil societies' interventions prove to be more effective in disseminating such information because TV and Radio coverage is limited to certain areas
In looking at the question of stigmatization, many people professed that they would care for their AIDS relatives; should the need arise. However, as over 90% of the people interviewed did not have known family members affected by AIDS, it is uncertain whether they would actually do as they claim when faced with the situation