PhotoVoice is delivering photography workshops in Uganda, Myanmar and Nigeria with participants sharing perspectives on HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights.
International HIV/AIDS Alliance
International HIV/AIDS Alliance
The International HIV/AIDS Alliance works to build knowledge, mobilise people and inspire leadership, allowing all voices to play significant roles in the response to HIV.
PhotoVoice is delivering a series of workshops to support the Alliance’s programme ‘Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV Response’ (PITCH).
PITCH aims to strengthen local organisations’ capacity to advocate, generate evidence and develop robust policy solutions for upholding individuals and communities’ rights to HIV, sexual and reproductive health services. The programme supports key populations including men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who use drugs and adolescent girls and young women.
To support the project PhotoVoice is delivering participatory photography workshops in three countries; Uganda, Myanmar and Nigeria. Advocates and Young Emerging Champions from PITCH partner organisations will create photo advocacy messages that reflect on their experiences of and perspectives on rights and access to health services.
New materials created by these participants will be incorporated into partners ongoing advocacy strategies, and targeted at key audiences to strengthen the case for improved rights and access to HIV and SRHR related health services, prevention from HIV and protection of the rights of the communities that they work with.
In 2016, 36.7 million people were living with HIV. HIV prevalence is estimated to be:
- 24 times higher among people who inject drugs
- 10 times higher among sex workers
- 24 times higher among gay men and other men who have sex with men
- 49 times higher among transgender people than among the rest of the adult population.
- Young women (10-24 years old) are twice as likely to acquire HIV as young men the same age. The people who most need HIV services often have poor access to effective treatment and prevention options. In 2016, there were 1.8 million new HIV infections worldwide, highlighting the need for increased prevention services. In 2016, 17.2 million people with HIV were not receiving lifesaving treatment globally. As a result of this, 1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses.
Communities who are stigmatised, criminalised or discriminated against – such as men who have sex with men, members of the LGBT community, sex workers, people who use drugs and adolescent girls and young women face significant human rights violations that make them more vulnerable to acquiring HIV.
For example, a lack of power in personal, institutional and political spaces will impact key population’s sexual health rights, including their agency and choice over the use of condoms, and how and with whom they have sex. Additionally, fear of arrest or ill treatment may cause people who use drugs to be reluctant to carry new syringes or disclose their drug use to health professionals. Among others, these factors impede key populations rights and access to HIV and SRHR related health services.
The PITCH project uses an advocacy application of the PhotoVoice methodology to ensure that key populations feedback their experiences of being affected by HIV, sexual and reproductive health services and campaign for positive change.
Three-week in-country trips will take place in Uganda, Myanmar and Nigeria. Each trip consists of one-week training with PITCH partner organisation staff, and two-weeks participatory photography workshops with PITCH Young Advocates.
Building local organisation’s capacity for advocacy and leveraging local knowledge, PhotoVoice is providing training on the methodology as a tool for advocacy, communications and research. The training covers technical aspects of digital photography and how participatory photography can be used throughout the PITCH programme. Furthermore, cameras and equipment will be left with participants to ensure the sustainability and continuation of the project.
Participant workshops build photographic skills and explore the communities’ experiences of HIV and sexual and reproductive rights, informing the development of key advocacy messages. Feeding back their experiences, priorities and opinions on relevant services through their work will provide insight and tools for change.
Upon workshop completion, a local exhibition and community engagement event presenting the photo advocacy messages will allow for feedback from other key stakeholders.
Participants have identified key audiences for photo advocacy, and developed targetted messaging to strengthen the case for improved access to health services, prevention from HIV and protection of the rights of the communities that they work with. Drawing on these findings individual case studies have been developed following, 1:1 interviews. This provides an opportunity for participants to expand on their advocacy messages and share a deeper insight into the issues that affect them and their priority areas for change.
Participant speeches at the public exhibition and engagement event furthered the opportunity to reflect and expand on their photo advocacy messages. Participants have demonstrated pride and new-found confidence in discussing their work and the process they had gone through to achieve it. Ongoing activities will support participants to advocate for change.
“When I was a young teacher, HIV was a relatively new term and it was something everyone was deeply scared of. The billboards told us that HIV would end our lives. At the time, as part of an initiative set by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, teachers who were thought to be gay were made to do a blood test by the education authorities. They simply told us we had to go, we weren’t informed why. I was made to attend the hospital to test and it was only there that I discovered other ‘gay’ teachers and realized what was happening. We heard later that other teachers who tested positive had been fired.
We had to wait seven days for the results. I was in chaos – I couldn’t eat, sleep or work. I worried that I would loose my job and face discrimination from my family if the results came back positive.
Today, forced testing doesn’t occur but the fear and stigma remains. Now there is services for HIV+ people and you can find places to go for free testing – but so many don’t want to go because even today, they fear embarrassment and discrimination – they worry that they will loose respect and trust in their communities.
The Alliance provides vital community work, reaching out to key populations to raise awareness on the importance of HIV prevention and challenging the misconceptions about HIV that still exist. We explain to people that they can still have a healthy life as a carrier and take steps to protect themselves and others. Our work is needed because the National AIDS Programme in Myanmar does not reach the rural communities, who lack services and support.
In ending the AIDS epidemic, the Government must ensure that these crucial services are provided and are accessible to all.”
© Sammy 2018 | PhotoVoice | International HIV/AIDS Alliance | ‘PITCH’ | Myanmar