Amelia Jacob

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2001 Africa Prize Laureate

Co-Founder of SHDEPHA+ and Counselor with HIV

United Republic of Tanzania

After the death of her husband in 1993, Amelia Jacob was diagnosed as being HIV-positive. Like many other women, this announcement changed her life. She felt compelled to leave her job as an accountant and pursue an environment that would provide positive nurturing and support. Despite the extreme stigmatization and sometimes violent consequences of disclosing one’s illness, Amelia Jacob decided to become a visible spokesperson in the HIV/AIDS movement.

In response to the lack of adequate psychological care for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), Ms. Jacob assisted in founding the Service Health and Development for People Living Positively with HIV/AIDS (SHDEPHA+), an organization focusing on care and physiological support. SHDEPHA+ was created to provide a safe and open space for people living with HIV/AIDS to discuss issues and concerns dealing with the disease. It allows and supports emotional releases, providing safety in terms of privacy and maintenance of confidentiality, and gives care and attention to clients in the form of counseling.

Due to her tremendous courage to speak out about HIV/AIDS, Ms. Jacob has successfully promoted living positively with HIV and has championed accessing rights for PLWHA. Her work has included:

  • Writing a training manual, available in both English and Swahili, that focuses on the psychological, medical, and social needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. She has published papers on her experiences, covering topics such as positive living, life skills, counseling skills, quality and good peer-educators, and communication skills.
  • Creating a training program on positive life with HIV/AIDS for those who are already starting to lose hope. She draws her knowledge and direction not only from her personal experience, but also from her participation in various training workshops within and outside Tanzania.
  • Advocating for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. She has attended many public rallies throughout Tanzania to openly fight society’s stigma and denial of people with HIV/AIDS. Her goal is to change both public policy and social constructs surrounding HIV/AIDS.

By her example, Ms. Jacob has empowered people living with HIV/AIDS to come forth and become spokespersons. She has demanded that the public treats people with HIV/AIDS with dignity and compassion while advocating that any effective treatment must include warmth and respect to those living with HIV/AIDS.