AIDS Blogging day in Algeria

Today, Algeria, just like the rest of the planet, observes World AIDS day. Various conferences, seminars, and shows as well as SIDA Blogging Day 2011detection campaigns are organized throughout the country on this occasion. This year, Aniss, a non-governmental volunteer organization innovated by launching a blogging day. The organization, based in the coastal city of Annaba in eastern Algeria, is dedicated to the fight against sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV-AIDS. The theme of this “SIDA Blogging Day” (SIDA is AIDS in French) is to fight stigmatization and show solidarity with people living with AIDS in Algeria. The association with  illicit sexual activities is still prevalent in Algerian society and AIDS is rarely spoken about openly. People affected by the disease are viewed with suspicion, carrying the double burden  of sickness and social stigmatization. According toDr. Salima Bouzghoub of the Pasteur Institute there are, officially, 5381 cases of HIV-positive and 1234 cases of AIDS in Algeria, with an average of 50 new cases of AIDS and 200 new cases of HIV-positive every year. But Dr. Bouzghoub recognizes that the real numbers could be larger given the limited number of detection centers in the country and the fact that many patients prefer not to declare their disease, getting to hospitals when they are about to die.  Some laboratories even neglect to declare the cases they have identified.   Long considered an imported “foreign disease”, the AIDS virus has now become a local one increasingly affecting men and women equally. The dominant mode of transmission, between 80% and 90%, remains sexual mainly because of cultural resistance to the use of condoms. Chances of survival for AIDS victims in Algeria are still low in comparison to western standards due to the limited availability of medication.

The blogging day campaign has been joined by various active youth-oriented organizations such as Le Souk, Jam mag, Kherdja and Denia Bkhir. This should hopefully contribute to a greater awareness of the  disease and its ramifications, given that,according to UNICEF, 67 % of contamination cases concern the 15 to 24 years old age group and 9 out of 10 young Algerians don’t have a correct understanding of the disease.   In a poll at the University of Tizi Ouzou only about 3% of the 1800 students polled knew the modes of transmission of AIDS.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “AIDS Blogging day in Algeria

  1. Great initiative – Is it not the first initiative ever to raise awareness against AIDS?
    I think bloggers talking about the disease is a great idea; since it’s a communication platform that is easily accessible and attractive to the young demographics, let’s just hope the message gets through to the young people out there who think AIDS only affects homosexuals or African and the West!
    As you said “illicit sexual activities are still prevalent in Algerian society” but people seem to think there are no consequences to be paid.

    • AIDS awareness activities have been going on for a while in Algeria, but I believe this is the first year that an effort has been made to reach out to a broader, and especially younger, audience. Just like you I hope it succeeds in changing perceptions. As in many other societies, everything connected to sexuality is a very touchy subject. We need to bring it out more in the open.

  2. 9 out of 10 youngsters not having understanding of the disease is simply astounding.

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