Health Action Charity Organisation (HACO) was established as a charitable organisation in the Kent area of the United Kingdom in 2003, and this charity organisation has been working to raise awareness of HIV/Aids and provide support to the African population within the Kent area. We work in close partnership with the Medway Primary Care Trust , and our work here is highly valued.
We are all aware that HIV is a problem in our communities and it is having a negative impact on families both in this country and abroad. While we recognize the need to support those who are living with HIV, the other aspect of the work involving HIV prevention is that of awareness.
Moreover, many people, especially members of rural communities in Africa, have not yet received HIV prevention messages relevant to their experiences and cultural background and this is an issue which need addressing in most African Countries. HACO is working in partnership with a charity organisation NOAF in Nigeria to carry out Health Promotion and HIV Awareness in the rural part of Edo State of Nigeria. The issues of HIV is very sensitive and care needs to be taken in targeting the most affected target communities without making them feel that they are being singled out or indeed discriminated against. For people with physical and psychological disabilities, the most fundamental right is the right not to be different from others.
The HIV virus is a very particular type of disability, not visible but arousing a lot of emotions that may be very hard to control in Kent, the most significant increase in the number of HIV infections is occurring amongst African communities. Black Africans make up around 1% of Medway’s population yet account for almost 62% of diagnosed HIV infection . There is also evidence of particularly high levels of undiagnosed HIV infection amongst African communities in UK.
Much more needs to be done about HIV/AIDS education and prevention for African young men, women and children.
Despite being at much higher risk of being affected by HIV than individuals from other groups, and making up the largest proportion of new diagnoses each year, individuals from African communities are not accessing equal levels of support from health and social care services, or those offered by mainstream HIV organisations. According to the Health Protection Agency, “Undiagnosed HIV infection and late diagnosis of long-standing HIV infection continue to be a feature of the treatment histories of [African] men and women” [Nov 2003].
HACO work with the African communities in Medway/Kent to significantly improve access to these services by tackling the recognised and evidenced major causes of this disparity and to improve their sexual health.
At present, we present information and available options to local African people in relation to sexual health and HIV and information on services available in the community to new African immigrants in the area.
- Attending African and other Black Minority Ethnic based venues and events to carry out sexual health promotion work.
- Providing one-to-one support to individuals e.g. accompanying people to testing clinics, social service and housing department.
- Signposting to other services e.g. local authority services.
- Contributing to skill development in the local community through provision of comprehensive trainings to project Volunteers.
Progress to date on establishing HACO
- Recruited an administrator – currently on voluntary basis
- Registration as a charity
- Establishment of an office
- Training of 14 session workers – who will undertake health promotion with the client group on early diagnosis
- Run several HIV awareness seminars supported by the Awards for All.
- Summer project providing African creative arts projects for children affected by HIV funded by Kent Community Foundation
- Protocol and referral system established with the GUM department, Medway Maritime Hospital
- Home visits, group hospital visits and prison visits with to undertake health promotion
- Production of publicity material on the service;
- Promoting to service to church, community, health and other groups – e.g. a recent presentation to a congregation of 200 in Chatham resulting in referrals to GUM for free HIV testing.
- Training on fundraising
- Securing of Lloyds TSB funding to pay for office rent in previous year and support group meeting costs
- Got an award of Kent Community Champion in 2005.
- Became one of National African HIV Prevention Programme (NAHIP) Associate partners in 2006.
This is a unique project as there is no other organisation delivering similar service in this area. At the moment we have a volunteer Project Manager, a volunteer Administrator, 2 dVolunteer community Mobilisers and 14 sessional workers also volunteers.