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News and Resources

African Housing Groups Reduce Discrimination Against People Living With HIV

News and Resources

“I have learnt to use accommodating and non-discriminatory language and will encourage my colleagues and others not to use discriminatory and undermining language when dealing with clients with HIV-AIDS.”


This affirmation by Nicodemus Setshedi of MES was made during a study visit to Montreal in September 2013 a few weeks ago. MES, a partner of Rooftops Canada, is a community service organization that works to empower people in the inner city of Johannesburg, South Africa.


Mr. Setshedi attended the HIV, AIDS and Housing Research Summit VII in Montreal. His statement is a reminder of the stigma and discrimination that still exist as we recognize World AIDS Day.


Rooftops Canada and its partners believe that HIV is a disease like any other that is waiting for a cure. No one deserves to be shunned by society because they are unwell. And the first step in dealing with HIV and AIDS is secure shelter. Without a secure home, a caring family and community, it is next to impossible to provide health care and effective counselling to those infected or affected by HIV-AIDS.


Rooftops Canada works with its African partners to mainstream innovative HIV-AIDS training and income-generation initiatives with the members of their cooperative housing societies.


In Kenya, NACHU’s Build and Live program promotes HIV “community competence,” creating a safe social space where community members can meet and talk. Dina Lengo from Voi Youth Housing Co-op, a NACHU member, says that “an open and honest discussion is the most powerful mitigation tool for HIV-AIDS.”


WAT-HST networks with AIDS service organizations in Tanzania to enhance its training.  And in Zimbabwe, ZINACHO emphasizes income-earning opportunities for people living with HIV and offers training on “positive masculinity” and reducing gender-based violence. But ZINACHO notes that “although the prevalence rate of HIV and AIDS has dropped to 14.3 percent in Zimbabwe, stigmatizations are still rife. More HIV and AIDS training programs are needed within all structures of the housing movement.”


Rooftops Canada and its partners promote African regional and global networks on HIV-AIDS and housing with a particular focus on women, youth and livelihoods. It helps establish links between Canadian AIDS sector organizations and partners in sub-Saharan Africa. International advocacy is ongoing. Last year in a breakthrough at the International Leadership Summit on HIV-AIDS and Housing in Washington, DC, World leaders in the struggle against AIDS agreed to place housing security on the global AIDS agenda.


Much has been achieved on the HIV-AIDS and housing front, but a lot more needs to be done. Every year Rooftops Canada and its partners renew their commitments to the global effort to achieve “Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.”