27- year old Assie Assiétou was pregnant with her third child when she discovered that she is HIV positive.
“I thought it was the end of the world,” she recalls. “I immediately thought about my husband and I was very worried about his reaction. In the end, I summoned up all my courage and went to talk to him.”
Assiétou’s husband, Laouali, immediately agreed to go to a voluntary screening centre, where he found out that he is also HIV positive.
Today, they both receive free treatment from the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Support Programme for Associations and NGOs (Programme d’appui au monde associatif et communautaire), otherwise known as PAMAC.
This nationwide mobilisation has helped reduce the HIV and AIDS prevalence rate from 7 percent in the 1990s to 2 percent in 2007.
Assiétou was tested thanks to a group of women volunteers who are part of the PAMAC network, and who conduct informal discussions with people living in different villages about the risks of HIV.
They also organise plays and film screenings, followed by debates that raise issues such as the importance of wearing a condom, HIV testing and preventive action.
Assiétou and Laouali are among tens of thousands of Burkinabé who have benefited from PAMAC’s nationwide work to raise public awareness of HIV and AIDS.
Since January 2009, 175 women’s groups have participated in 1,345 educational sessions, and in total, the initiative has reached some 150,680 people, more than half of whom are women. 1,560 people have also received HIV screening tests, and 30 individuals who tested positive are currently receiving treatment in the areas covered by the women.