Alliance linking organisation in Haiti, Promoteurs d’Objectif Zerosida (POZ), offers guidance, counselling and support to almost 3,000 people living with HIV.
Haiti has a generalised HIV epidemic, with a prevalence of 1.9%. The epidemic is exacerbated by extreme poverty, low levels of education, poor quality and availability of health and social services, and political instability. HIV-related stigma and discrimination have also had a devastating effect. People living with HIV can often be subjected to violence, denied access to medical services and social support, and abandoned by friends and family. This often leads to loss of livelihoods and human rights violations.
The devastating earthquake on 12 January 2010 left thousands of people struggling to access shelter, water and food. Many are still living in temporary camps. The vulnerability of people living with HIV has increased due to the breakdown of support systems and lack of access to sufficient food, as well as some difficulties accessing antiretroviral therapy.
POZ was established in 1995 with the mission of reducing the impact of HIV and AIDS and other STIs through community mobilisation and provision of support to young men and women, couples and families, people living with HIV and society in general. Founded by doctors, POZ was aware from the outset that a medical response alone would not overcome the challenges presented by HIV. As such, it has supported the creation and development of networks of people living with HIV as well as leading innovative work to reduce stigma and discrimination reduction, and change behaviours.
POZ offers direct services from various centres across Haiti. At these centres, it provides confidential voluntary HIV testing, pre and post-test counselling, a telephone helpline, support and treatment of STIs other than HIV; support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence; general consultations, and support groups.
- POZ tackles stigma and discrimination in a number of ways. They work with people openly living with HIV who speak about living with the virus as widely as possible, on the radio and TV, as well as at community events like concerts. They also reach out to religious leaders and other community representatives, encouraging them to change their attitudes towards people living with HIV, and use their positions to change perceptions of HIV in their communities.
- POZ operates ‘Telephone Bleu’, a helpline to give young people and people living with HIV 24-hour access to an anonymous information service providing support and guidance on HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence.
- POZ is involved in HIV prevention, encouraging safer sex practices through disseminating information, promoting condom use, behaviour change counselling, and community outreach activities.
- POZ also has a clinic and laboratory to provide blood profiles, urine tests, pregnancy tests and HIV tests. The site provides a safe, confidential environment where individuals can meet, ask questions, receive information, education and communication (IEC) material and condoms and get involved in support groups.
- POZ organises support groups to encourage people to access and adhere to treatment. These groups are also an important space for people to build their social support networks, and increase their self-esteem. POZ have also helped establish support groups for gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). Read more here.
- In 2011, POZ directly reached 209,376 people excluding IEC and materials.You can see more of our Annual achievements on our interactive map.
- In 2011, an external evaluation of a project implemented by POZ over three years, in three of the country’s ten departments, showed that people living with HIV reported that there had been a significant reduction in most forms of stigma and discrimination.
- POZ reacted quickly to the earthquake in 2010, and despite the collapse of their central office buildings, were able to re-establish their work within two weeks, operating from tents. They also adapted to the humanitarian context, taking HIV prevention messages to the camps of displaced people through outreach workers and loudspeaker vans. You can read more about reconstruction and HIV in Haiti in this blog.