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September 3, 2004

The Deaf Association in Preventing HIV/Aids

From:, Africa - Sep 3, 2004

The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)
September 2, 2004
Posted to the web September 3, 2004

By Diriba Eticha Addis Ababa

Nigat Ethiopia Deaf Association for prevention of AIDS has faced great obstacle in preventing and controlling HIV/AIDS and bringing awareness to the Deaf Society due to stigmatization, discrimination and ignorance.

Speaking at a workshop held on Sunday, at city government of Addis Ababa Social and civic affair Bureau, chairman of the association Wro. Firehiwot Minale said that the deaf society is more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS than other parts of the community because of lack of information.

She indicated that the society at large should get the access of understanding this severe social problem in combating HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Deaf Society.

Firehiwot said Nigat Ethiopia Deaf Association for prevention of AIDS is a self-initiated Association formed by five deaf individuals since September 1995 (Ethiopian calendar).

It is aimed at fighting HIV/AIDS from the Deaf Society and getting self awareness about this number one killer disease and severe health and social problem of the human race.

While delivering her speech on the workshop Firehiwot stated that the association has faced several problems while giving conceptual education to the Deaf Society.

The association used to give formal education at Menelik II School on Saturday and Sunday but now they are forbidden by the director of school without prior notice.

Though they have asked the reason why they were ordered to stop the programme no reply was given to them.

The association has reported the case to the Addis Ababa HIV/AIDS Protection and Control Office, Firehiwot acknowledged.

She explained that there is a communication problem between the deaf and those who are able to hear because of lack of knowledge of the sign language, and it is difficult for the society to give awareness about the seriousness of HIV/AIDS to the deaf.

The association is faced with the shortage of finance in order to teach the society this sign language so that they can communicate with the deaf and they can aware the deaf about the pandemic.

The deaf get information only through visual and pictorial aid, but the association is unable to get those materials and this brings a difficulty in giving awareness and know-how about this epidemic to members of the association, Firehiwot indicated.

The association lives on a one (one birr) monthly payment from members and do not have enough capital to do more on HIV/AIDS protection and prevention.

She added that there is no annual budget for the association from the government though they have asked for the budget. The association does not have computers and writing materials.

Alemayehu Bekele, Social Affair Special Assistance to the Bureau head at social and civil Affairs, said on the workshop that we shouldn't ignore the deaf society from the community instead we should encourage them, give them care and protection.

On the workshop, Firehiwot explained that the Addis Ababa Sub-City administrators, NGOs and governmental organizations were invited to participate on the workshop but none of them came.

After series discussion with some members of the association the workshop was postponed to another day because of absence of participants.

She indicated that this shows how the society at large ignores them so it needs to be given some emphasis in order to bring about a change on people's attitude, Frehiwot added.

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