Hundreds of people learned about modern methods for combating HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence and ignorance about sexuality during a three-day event in Douala, Cameroon, that featured panel discussions and health screenings.
By Courtney Stans
The event, called “RELOVE”, was organized by the anti-AIDS, pro-LGBTI-rights organization Alternatives-Cameroon. More than 500 people attended the sessions, which ran from Nov. 25 to 27 at the Police Medical Center in Douala.
“RELOVE” coincided with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (Nov. 25) and also served as a celebration of November as Cameroon’s month highlighting the country’s fight against HIV / AIDS.
The focus was on the struggle against on gender-based violence as well as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections in Cameroon, particularly as they affect key populations including men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, drug users and sex workers.
Supporters of “RELOVE” included Humanity First Cameroon, Affirmative Action, Horizons Femmes, Transamical and Camnafaw, which set up booths at which they provided advice, practical services, care and distribution of awareness materials.
Highlights of the event were:
- Promotion of PrEP medication (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which people at risk for HIV can take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injected drug use.
- Presentation of the Violentometer, a screening technique that presents an escalating series of specific behaviors that lead to domestic violence.
- Discussion of the Circle of Sexuality, a tool that presents the complexities of human sexuality, which is needed to overcome the taboo about discussions of sexuality in African societies.
- Presentation of the proctological approach aimed at the management of pathologies of the anus.
The participants included representatives of civil society, the judicial system, law enforcement, health-care providers, students, researchers, teachers, traditional leaders and religious leaders.
One participant commented:
“This event was beneficial. It should be presented regularly in order to enliven the community movement in Cameroon, which is an important contribution in the fight against HIV. Today, LGBTI people face health problems, so we must support them in these difficulties. This is the case today with proctology, which is still taboo in health facilities, yet necessary. “
Courtney Stans, the author of this article, is a Cameroonian journalist who writes under a pseudonym. Contact her at [email protected].