Reuters NewMedia - January 30, 2012
(AlertNet) - It was a stormy January day, but "M" had to pick up her kids
early from school in order to make it on time for her appointment
in Sin El Fil on time. The 45 year old mother of three is one of
an estimated 3,600 persons living with HIV in Lebanon, according
to the Ministry of Public Health.
Lebanon is considered one of the lower ranked countries when it
comes to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. But, that does not diminish
the challenges facing people living with HIV.
"I felt like I was going through hell," M declares, as she
recounts her experience with HIV/AIDS, including all the
difficulty and suffering she endured before being correctly
diagnosed. "I suffered terribly for many months, all the while
being unable to take care of myself and my children."
When she finally knew she was HIV positive, her world "turned
upside down." Even more, she was unable to share the news with
anyone around her "for fear of the stigma associated with
HIV/AIDS". In fact, such stigma takes multiple severe forms in
Lebanon, including social isolation, economic exclusion, and
total abandonment. "Only through the medical, social and human
support of SIDC have I been able to stand on my two feet and
resume leading a 'normal' life," she declares.
SIDC - Soins Infirmiers et Developpement Communautaire - is
situated in a quiet neighborhood in Sin El Fil, East of Beirut.
It was founded in 1987 with the mission of meeting "the health
needs of the youth, elderly and the most vulnerable individuals
and groups in Lebanon through community empowerment". Nadia
Badran, Coordinator of the HIV/AIDS Program at SIDC, explains
that the organization struggles to "provide the much-needed
support to persons living with HIV through various services,
which include medication, psychological support, nutrition
counseling, social guidance, home visits and peer education."
One of the major challenges that face persons living with HIV in
Lebanon is access to healthcare and social services. Often
organizations like SIDC provide these services, but operate on a
very limited budget. That's where ANERA has been able to help.
Through its partnership with YMCA-Lebanon, ANERA recently
delivered a much-needed donation of the anti-retroviral medicine
Didanosine. The 3,160 packages of Didanosine valued over
$180,000 were kindly donated by AmeriCares Foundation. This is
the third year in a row that ANERA has delivered life-saving
anti-retroviral medicines donated by AmeriCares to SIDC, which
have included Abacavir, Lamivudine, Nevirapine, Zidovudine, and
Nadia Badran adds, "PLHIV has witnessed periods of medicine
shortage in the past; having enough stock of medicines ensures
medical and emotional stability for PLHIV". "But, it is our
responsibility to make sure our beneficiaries know how to use
their medicines and how to take care of themselves while using
"We are happy to be able to contribute to alleviating the
sufferings of people living with HIV/Aids in Lebanon," adds Dima
Zayat, ANERA's medical in-kind program coordinator, "We believe
that people living with HIV have the right to work, family and
access to health care."