Joe Yalopa is a HIV counsellor from Goroka who now lives and works in East Sepik.
He is with the VCCT unit of the Sepik Centre of Hope, and is quite concerned about what currently lacks in the advocacy and awareness space for HIV and AIDS in the province.
In his 12 years of deployment, Yalopa has seen the highs and success of response to advocacy and now the lows of lack of advocacy and awareness.
In the beginning, there were a lot of good response from the communities because there was support from donors, which enabled them to advocate and do follow up and conduct home base care training for immediate families as caregivers.
“Since the organisation was established, we facilitated those programs and trainings. This is one of the major organisations that has been effectively doing training to educate people in all communities involved - even training those people in the hospital because HIV was kind of a new thing,” stated Yalopa.
“We have been facilitating trainings for nurses and those people that work in the hospital and health sector, to equip them with the knowledge about HIV and they can handle HIV issues at work place.”
He expressed concern about clients defaulting in their line of treatment due to logistic difficulties and stigma and discrimination.
Much concern is also on the decreasing number of client visits.
“We were receiving about 50-100 a day at that time,” said Yalopa. “After twelve years of working, we start to see the number of people are going down. We are also not receiving the kind of support we usually did in the first place.”
With support from donors and the National AIDS Council Secretariat on the decline, Yalopa has called on the provincial authorities to support them as there are more things to do in terms of effective awareness and advocacy programs.
(HIV counsellor, Joe Yalopa)