• Projects “STD-AIDS, care and prevention for foreigners”

Since 1996, this project has organised the care for and prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and AIDS in two specific target groups: the sub-Saharan migrants from the city of Antwerp, and asylum seekers and refugees in Flanders.


1. Target group research in sub-saharian, HIV-infected patients

The objective of this research was:

- to evaluate the needs concerning access to medical assistance and daily care.
- to adapt assistance, psycho-social and cultural support to the felt needs.
- to develop actions to improve assistance and care.
- to cooperate with the different AIDS-organizations such as IPAC, SOA-AIDS vzw, The Foundation, HIV-Vereniging Vlaanderen, Payoke, and others, in order to integrate the sub-Saharan community into their activities.

The results of the research showed that:

- the people interviewed have severe financial, social and legal problems.
- this target group is very hard to reach and to penetrate.
- there is a great fear of stigmatisation, which causes HIV-infected migrants to isolate themselves from their community.
- prevention measures are NOT coming across.
- the subject is still largely "unmentionable".
- specific assistance and prevention structures are necessary.



• Information stand on S.T.D. and aids on the "African Festival" in Antwerpen .

  The method used for this action-investigation allows the immediate development of actions and activities meeting the needs of the target group. Step by step, a group of ‘partners in distress’ was formed, that meets every month and organizes joint activities to offer their support to fellow-sufferers.
In 1998, six meetings were organized with different community leaders. This committee (which represents people from Congo, Nigeria, Ghana; Togo, Ivory Coast, CARE, Mwangaza and others), comes together every two months and has a connecting function between the ITM project ‘STD-Aids care and prevention’ on the one hand and the sub-Saharan communities on the other.
The committee is responsable for mobilizing the different communities with respect to the problems of STD-Aids. This is achieved by organizing informational and educational activities.
The results of this ‘target group investigation’ with sub-Saharan patients were presented at the seminar on 18.12.1998: ‘Solidarity in the fight against AIDS’. One hundred and seven persons took part, professionals as well as sub-Saharan migrants. The community leaders were actively involved in the organization of this seminar.
The results from 1998 are encouraging. The prevention sessions, organized at the request of the African organizations (YWCA, Mwangaza, the Ghana community, the African Platform and others attracted a lot of people and generated much interest. The distribution of educational material on STD-AIDS and of prevention materials (condoms, brochures) went very smoothly.

2. AIDS prevention with asylum seekers/refugees in reception centres

In the asylum centres of the Red Cross (Lint, Brugge, Menen, Deinze, Lanaken and Overpelt) and the Federal institutions (Kapellen, Merksplas and Brugge), primary AIDS prevention is organized for newcomers. The objective of these prevention sessions "omtrent gezondheid/parlons santé/what about health" is to inform the refugees about vulnerability, medical care, risk behaviour and use of condoms.
The subject is discussed in groups of 15 to 25 people. After a short introduction to the subject, an intensive and interactive discussion takes place: its goals are to sensitize and to increase knowledge.The prevention sessions are held in English and in French. Sometimes translators speak to the ‘students’ in their own language.
The people who introduce the subjects are usually external physicians or prevention workers, who use the guidelines of the project. These professionals help to create a network to ensure the continuity of AIDS prevention in centres for asylum seekers in the future.

In the Red Cross reception centres of Lanaken and Overpelt, a course in medical care was given to three groups of asylum seekers. The aim of this pilot project, on behalf of the Belgian Administration for Development Co-operation (BADC), was to explore the possibility of providing useful short-term training in medical care to interested asylum seekers. The programme was composed of: (1) the human body; (2) causes of illness; (3) attending to an ill person; (4) prevention of infections, vaccinations and hygiene; (5) how to handle traumatic experiences; (6) family planning and fertility; (7) STD; (8) First Aid: resuscitation; (9) First Aid: burns and wounds; (10) recovery process and medication. In Lanaken, 20 participants enrolled, in Overpelt, 23. The courses were evaluated as very positive by most participants.

Dr. Thérèse ALOU and Dr. Ilse KINT, physicians
Els DE REUWE, psychologist
Roland STRUELENS, co-ordinator
Prof. Bob COLEBUNDERS, supervision


• Course "Health care" with refugees in the refugee centre of Overpelt: first aid (reanimation)