World AIDS Day: Bridges of Hope

December 1 is World AIDS Day, the day on which we pause to think about the millions of people affected by the HIV pandemic. As the date approaches, we will post a series of entries focusing on our HIV and AIDS programs around the world. Some of the posts will be technical in nature, underscoring the scientific and programmatic foundations of CRS’ work.

In Cambodia, HIV and AIDS carry great stigma. People who become ill are sometimes ostracized from their communities. However, with the increased availability of medical treatment, many regain their health and wish to rejoin their communities, reenter the workforce, and resume normal lives. The Bridges of Hope program, which is supported by CRS, helps them make that transition.

In 2004, Maryknoll Cambodia (with support from CRS, USAID, and CARITAS Australia) started Bridges of Hope “with the purpose of assisting people living with HIV and AIDS who had been marginalized due to illness to socially and economically reintegrate into society after regaining their health on anti-retroviral therapy. Bridges provides group and family counseling, basic training for managing a small business, apprenticeships, job placements, vocational training, small grants, health education, reconciliation with estranged families and other services required for clients to transition from being dependent upon project assistance to supporting themselves.”

Bridges of Hope Socioeconomic Reintegration Project: Report of a Follow-Up Survey with Clients Living with HIV and AIDS (Kruse-Levy, N., Senefeld, S., Sitha, A., & Ang A., 2007) presents key findings from a follow-up survey of “bridged” clients. The survey measured such things as quality of life, social inclusion, family support, health and household economics.

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