There are now 31,000 people living with HIV in Madagascar, a 54% increase since 2010UNAIDS, 2017
Of these people, only 8% are aware of their status and 5% are receiving treatment. In Anosy, poor healthcare service provision and low sexual and reproductive health knowledge exacerbate the threat of HIV and sexually transmitted infections. Under 40% of people in this region are able to identify HIV prevention methods, such as condom use, and over 90% of people have never been tested for HIV (Santé, 2010).
Mahatalaky, a rural town located four hours from Fort Dauphin, and its neighbouring communities are particularly at risk due to extreme healthcare shortages. One doctor serves 12 villages, and healthcare centres lack basic provisions. Furthermore, definitive testing and treatment for HIV are only accessible by travelling to Fort Dauphin. Without these crucial resources, healthcare providers in these three sites feel ill-equipped to handle the communities’ sexual and reproductive health challenges, leading them to approach SEED Madagascar for support.
‘Fort Dauphin has one of the highest [STI] prevalence rates; it might even reach up to 50%’healthcare professional, Fort Dauphin 2019.
Under 40% of people in this region are able to identify HIV prevention methods.Santé, 2010
Project Mitao (‘to protect yourself’ in Malagasy) seeks to overcome these challenges through research and capacity-building in rural communities. We will undertake research to understand the complex factors driving the spread of HIV and STIs and this research will employ a variety of complementary methods to examine the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) knowledge, attitudes, and practices of young people.
To equip young people with key SRHR skills, we will partner with rural healthcare providers and teachers to pilot SRHR lessons with students and out-of-school youth. We will increase stakeholder engagement through the creation of a robust network of partners and share emerging findings, exchange feedback and direct next steps, ensuring that this research provides the basis for long-term STI prevention and treatment in some of Madagascar’s most vulnerable communities.
The Mercury Phoenix Trust, private donors.