Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV) in churches is fuelled by a lack of openness about HIV which continues to reduce the effectiveness of HIV and AIDS interventions. The project sought to contribute to reducing stigma and promoting open discussions about HIV within the faith-based community. It was implemented by Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria, a civil society organisation founded in 1997 as a platform for media activism around the issue of HIV and AIDS. JAAIDS’ mission is to contribute to the prevention, care and control of HIV and AIDS in Nigeria by providing innovative communication interventions that will facilitate positive behaviour change to reduce the spread of the pandemic.
Assessment: The project successfully created a platform that promoted and communicated better understanding and greater awareness of HIV and AIDS and their stigmatising and discriminatory effects among people of influence. Church and community leaders, youth leaders, women’s groups and human rights activists were trained in communication skills and strategies to reduce stigma, discrimination as well as denial. Direct beneficiaries gained new knowledge on HIV and AIDS, and the impact of stigma and discrimination on PLHIV. The female religious leaders learnt how to effectively discuss HIV transmission from pulpit, youth leaders leant how to discuss sex and other related issues with youths from an informed perspective. The project has helped to increase open discussions about HIV in participating churches. There were 3 media reports by the journalists who attended the training 2 radio broadcasts and 1 news magazine. The direct beneficiaries were 19 women and 10 men whose capacity on HIV knowledge and counselling was built. These include HIV counselling team leaders: 15 female, 6 male from churches in 5 Lagos State local government areas; journalists: 3 female; PLHIV: 1 female and 2 male. 27 workshop participants were trained on HIV information, communication skills and strategies to reduce stigma, discrimination and denial. The indirect beneficiaries of the project reached were approximately 2117 comprising men, women as well as youth.