By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 4/17/2006 | 3:43 pm
'Annahar' association for HIV positives, the first of its kind in Morocco and the second in the Maghreb and the Arab World, was created in Casablanca on Friday to facilitate meetings and exchange and share information on prevention with HIV positives.
K.J, the new president of the “Annahar” association, said its aim is to boost the moral of HIV positives, and to have a say in the international strategy of world organizations that work in the field of the fight against AIDS.
He added that the association also aims to fight against stigmatization and discrimination against HIV positives; promote exchange and contacts between HIV positives, create income generating activities for the reintegration of the people living with HIV, and participate in the meetings of the national coordination committee for the fight against AIDS.
Regarding the name of the association, K.J said that they named it after the 'Annahar' hospital that the King has inaugurated recently.
“We were living in a miserable situation before the inauguration of the new hospital. We have seen light when the King opened the new hospital. That's why we have decided to give our association its name,” explained K.J.
A.B, one of the elected members of the association's executive board recounted her story of suffering and how she got AIDS.
“Through this association, we want to raise the Moroccan people's awareness of the danger of HIV-AIDS, and invite them to take precautions. We don't want the disease to spread in Morocco,” she stressed.
The Association Marocaine des Jeunes Contre le SIDA (AMJCS), which hosted the general assembly of the association in its headquarters in Casablanca, offered the new members free training in computing, and free language courses (French-English). AMJCS also took in charge the transport expenses of the members in order to encourage them to come to the courses.
The AMJCS is one of the associations active in the field of AIDS prevention. It was created in 1993 by a group of young Moroccans to fight the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) in Morocco.
The AMJCS president, Abdessamad Oussayh, told Morocco Times that supporting this initiative is part of the association's strategy in the fight against AIDS.
“We want the HIV positives to speak for themselves. We don't want them to be only receivers, but rather participating in all the actions against AIDS,” he explained.
“The idea of offering training courses aims at upgrading their educational level in order to apt to represent other HIV positives in national and international conferences against AIDS. We also want to help them generate income because most of them lost their jobs when their employers learned they had HIV,” Oussayh added.
Dr. Hakima Himmich, president of the 'Association Marocaine de Lutte Contre le SIDA' (ALCS), who came to encourage the creation of Annahar association, said the pioneering initiative is “very positive”, and invited the new members to adhere to the international network of HIV positives to facilitate communication and exchange.
Morocco is one of the North African countries that has known AIDS since the middle of the 80s. The first case of AIDS was discovered in 1986 in a man infected by a blood transfusion during surgery in France.
Statistics up to 2005 reveal that the total number of full-blown AIDS cases in Morocco reached 1839. According to AMJCS, there are 16,000 to 25,000 HIV positives in Morocco.
The first association of HIV positives was created in Algeria in 1998 under the name 'El Hayet' association, which groups HIV positives and their families.
Since its creation, El Hayet has been fighting against stigmatization and discrimination against the people living with HIV, as the disease is still surrounded with taboo in the Maghreb and the Arab world.
'Annahar' association is the second of its kind in the Arab world, which came to break the silence surrounding the disease and invite Arab and world leaders to show their political commitments in the fight against AIDS.