In celebration of 16 Days of Activism, we invite you to listen to Achiya Michael and some of his thoughts on working on HIV at the Nagonga health center in Uganda.

“I’m Achiya Michael working in Nagonga health center for Toroto district as a linkage coordinator counselor. My duties are as follows: I link clients to care and the treatment. I also counsel clients on adherence, follow clients who have missed appointments and lost to follow, counseling the clients and referring them to other facilities. I also categorize clients into stable and unstable.

First, I would like to say that the most we have improved is that most of the community the women and the men come for HIV testing, and also they are linked to care. They also follow their appointments so well, and the stigma has actually reduced among the clients right now compared to where they had a lot of stigma. But things which are still there as regards to the boys and girls still have much stigma and they fear so much to come for treatment and care, and mostly we do the follow-ups for them in order to retain them into care. Also men take long to take an HIV test and be on a treatment, compared to women. Women they come but men they take long.

The gender and HIV issue we have sensitized the community about HIV testing, treatment, and care. We have also sensitized the community about the roles of men and women — or the gender ssues. We have also counseled them on the gender issues and referred them to other institutions where they are managed well.

Yeah the message I have for people who manage HIV and gender issues are number one: we need to create a mutual understanding within our people, be sympathetic to them and also have confidentiality within our working environment and even within the community as we go to follow up these clients.

We also do ongoing counseling, especially for those who take long to understand about gender issues and the HIV/AIDS. They need continuous counseling for them to understand.”