In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the ATLAS Project is adapting its activities and participating in the response by providing support to its implementing partners.
In the context of the fight against HIV, in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal, the ATLAS Project works in close collaboration with health actors, whether institutional or operational, from the public, associative or community sectors. As soon as the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in these countries, the Project undertook to support its partners in adapting their activities, protecting people and raising awareness of barrier gestures to limit the spread of the virus.
Maintenance of the activities of dispensing HIVST kits and first distributions of protective materials.
Activities to provide HIVST kits have been maintained in all sites where possible, while ensuring the safety of people and compliance with national guidelines aimed at limiting gatherings and respecting barrier gestures in particular. It is indeed essential that, in the context of this epidemic, access to health services remains possible, in complete safety: self-testing is precisely an opportunity to maintain access to knowledge of one’s HIV status while limiting contact. To this end, the ATLAS Project provides its partners with protective equipment, mainly in the form of batches of hydroalcoholic gel and masks, but also hand washing devices in Côte d’Ivoire. As Dr Fatou Seck, Coordinator of the Outpatient Treatment Unit / Addiction Management Unit (UTA/UPAM) in Mbour, Senegal, pointed out, “We are pleased to welcome your donation for the staff and vulnerable populations followed at the Mbour EPS. This will help us to better manage our patients with less risk of contamination by COVID-19. In Senegal, nearly 3,000 bottles of hydroalcoholic gel, 2,000 bottles of liquid soap, 20,000 masks and about 20 non-contact temperature-taking devices have already been given to the partners.
Awareness of barrier gestures
At the same time, and always with a view to preserving the population, special emphasis was placed on raising awareness of barrier gestures and knowledge of coronavirus disease. Thus, in each of its countries of action, the ATLAS Project participates financially in the reproduction of posters to raise awareness of barrier gestures. In Mali, an additional contribution has been allocated to finance radio spots broadcast in local languages on community radio stations. In Senegal, weekly awareness-raising programmes will be produced and broadcast on three community radio stations in the regions of Dakar, Mbour and Ziguinchor where the ATLAS Project is implementing the dispensing of HIV self-test kits.
Specific sensitization on COVID-19 for people living with HIV
Finally, in collaboration with UNAIDS, a poster dedicated to people living with HIV has been developed in order to make them aware of the specific behaviours to adopt in the face of this epidemic, such as the availability of three months of treatment for people on ARVs, or the particular need to respect barrier gestures for people with an unstable HIV infection, as they are more vulnerable to other infections. These posters will be available in our partners’ care centres.