HAPCSO-Hiwot HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Support Organization
2001 Africa Prize Laureate
(Tibebe Maco- Founder and Executive Director)
In Ethiopia, despite the enormous psychological, demographic, and economic toll that HIV/AIDS has taken on the individuals infected and society at large, a silence and despondency exists. Frustrated with the general malaise about the disease and lack of response to the crisis, Nurse Tibebe Maco established the Hiwot HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Support Organization (HAPCSO) in 1999 with her own personal funds.
HAPCSO is a nongovernmental organization aimed at creating awareness about HIV/AIDS in the community and bringing about behavioral changes that will curb the present rate of transmission of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. The organization consists of a group of dedicated health workers and social workers with a wide variety of experiences in the areas of community care services, social counseling and integrated community development programs. HAPCSO believes that in order to protect the victims of HIV/AIDS as well as to prevent the current situation from escalating, educational and counseling services must be intensified. They work to integrate HIV education into the local culture, focusing on women and teenagers.
HAPCSO achieves their goals through organizing HIV/AIDS prevention workshops and seminars for high school students, teachers, women’s associations and other community based organizations. HAPCSO focuses on the entire prevention to care continuum, distributing condoms and literature as well as strengthening home-based care. Three of the many programs coordinated by HAPCSO include:
- Mobilizing youth and using their abundant creativity to interlace messages of prevention through poetry, music and theatre. As a result, many students are trained to become peer educators in reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention.
- Educating commercial sex workers on HIV/AIDS and condom use. Understanding that most commercial sex workers would rather have other means of income, HAPCSO has created a revolving loan fund to allow them the opportunity to leave their high risk activity and form other business ventures.
- Strengthening home-based care through facilitating care and counseling programs for AIDS orphans, patients and their families. HAPCSO visits patients’ families and teaches them about proper care and treatment for opportunistic infections that those suffering from AIDS may encounter.
HAPCSO provides clear and concise information that will empower the general population to be actively involved in HIV/AIDS prevention. They work in partnership with various community leaders dedicated to breaking the silence and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. HAPCSO’s overall mission is to create a sensitized society that is aware of the problems of HIV/AIDS and takes action to stop its spread.