Nature and Particularities of the Social Mobilization of Cambodian Women Living with HIV/AIDS in the Fight Against the Epidemic
Mr. Seng Sary
The emergence of a grassroots movement in the fight against HIV/AIDS stems from collective activism of PLHIV whose needs are experiences are not being addressed by current HIV/AIDS-related programming. The HIV/AIDS program at the national level sometimes does not reach far enough or it ignores the real needs of PLHIV regarding basic needs and social dislocation. HIV/AIDS is not only a medical condition but also a social phenomenon that caused social problems, such as stigmatization and discrimination, and economic problems, such as a basic needs shortage. Furthermore, the experience of having HIV/AIDS (in the family) often creates tension between PLHIV and non-PLHIV in the community and it is particularly the vulnerable groups (such as single mothers with children or families lacking a parent) that suffer the most. The demographic changes in the incidence of HIV/AIDS indicates that it is precisely these vulnerable groups who have not benefited from national programs for prevention and treatment and whose experiences are actually in contrary to the trend of decreasing transmission. Currently, empowerment programs from local and international NGOs help to advocate for and secure some basic needs for some PLHIV; civil society also serves to encourage policy makers to make considerations for HIV/AIDS-related problems not typically included in public programs. But the limited resources of these programs and the difficulties inherent to addressing more complicated social dilemmas have meant that the scope for adapting new programs has been small. The implication is that crafting an effective and comprehensive response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic will require that public programs learn from and, to some degree, rely on a bottom-up mobilization. The participation of women living with HIV/AIDS in the nascent social mobilization has established that organizing and advocacy can go a long way toward highlighting the evolving problems and solutions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. There is considerable room for complementary action in combating HIV/AIDS if cooperation and channels of communication can be opened and respected between the public and grassroots sectors.
Keywords: Social Mobilization, Cambodia, HIV/AIDS
* Thanks Sary Seng for the contribution of this comprehensive paper.