Nepal: Sneha Samaj, Provides Support for HIV+ Women in Nepal (October 2005)

Women living with HIV/AIDS in Nepal have new hope and opportunities as a result of Sneha Samaj and the Emergency Plan. Sneha Samaj was created in 2004 as a support group for women living with HIV/AIDS in Kathmandu and to assist HIV positive women throughout Nepal. Through the Emergency Plan a grant awarded to Sneha Samaj will enable the newly established organization to provide care and support for HIV+ women in Nepal, as well as build their capacity and management systems.

Sneha Samaj is constructing a care and support center for women living with HIV/ AIDS. The center will focus specifically on assisting women in dire need of short-term aid to recover from serious illness. Women will additionally be able to receive health check ups and screening and treatment for tuberculosis and other opportunistic infections. The clinic will provide counseling and psychological support as well as nutritional education and training to promote long term health.

In addition to the care center, Sneha Samaj is using a portion of their funding to hire and train patient advocates (PAs) to provide a multitude of services for people living with HIV/AIDS. PAs receive training in patient advocacy, patient rights, provider responsibilities, stigma reduction, counseling, and home based and palliative care. With their education, they will provide assistance at local Kathmandu hospitals closely linked with Sneha Samaj. As well, they will serve as outreach educators and provide help at the Care and Support Center.

Given such remarkable progress, it is hard to believe that Sneha Samaj was created only one year ago. As a testament to their success, representatives of Sneha Samaj attended the First Asia-Pacific Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS Best Practices Conference, sponsored by POLICY project and funded by the Emergency Plan. The conference and associated workshops taught skills to encourage women leadership within communities to scale up the participation of HIV+ women in Asia. With Emergency Plan funding and the dedication of women in Nepal, Sneha Samaj has quickly established itself as an effective organization in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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