Taking the AIDS battle to LGBT youths in Cameroon

ELAAA open house included discussions about the risks of HIV infection. (Photo by Eric Lembembe)

ELAAA open house included discussions about the risks of HIV infection. (Photo by Eric Lembembe)

They call it the Excellent Life AIDS Awareness Agency, or ELAAA.

In the four months since Cameroon’s Affirmative Action Association, or ACT, launched that project at its new headquarters, the ELAAA center has helped about 150 youths, ages 16 to 24. Altogether, those youths have made nearly 550 visits there, learning about behavioral changes that are needed to avoid HIV / AIDS.

Rostand Vondab Tentchimou, president of Cameroon’s Affirmative Action Association (Photo by Eric Lembembe)

Rostand Vondab Tentchimou, president of Cameroon’s Affirmative Action Association (Photo by Eric Lembembe)

The center also provides legal assistance for gay youths who have been rejected by their families and for those who have been arrested and discharged — most of them lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender or intersex.

To improve the youths’ social skills and to prepare them for entrepreneurship or self-employment, the center also runs an income-generating training program where youths work as apprentices, dye cloth, and produce yogurt and soap.

Those are some of the greatest achievements of ELAAA, President Rostand Vondab Tentchimou said during a July 27 open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the training center and headquarters.

Many people attended last month's open house at the ELAAA center, which promotes the rights of people vulnerable to STDs and HIV / AIDS.

Many people attended last month’s open house at the ELAAA center, which promotes the rights of people vulnerable to STDs and HIV / AIDS.

On that day, four peer educators presented a dramatization of HIV in Cameroon, particularly among the country’s most at-risk populations. That and other sessions, such as one on the proper use of male and female condoms, were in line with ACT’s goal — “to educate people in order to reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and to stop the growth of HIV among marginalized groups such as homosexuals,” the ACT president said.

About 30 people, including representatives of the High Commissioner of Canada, the U.S. Embassy and local non-profit groups, attended the ribbon-cutting.

In the future, said Serge Douomong Yotta, the secretary general of the organization, the group will work to improve its programs aimed at changing behavior, offer regular free screenings, and seek to expand communication between the general population and LGBTI.

Eric O. LEMBEMBE

About Eric O. Lembembe

Eric O. Lembembe, a journalist in Cameroon, is a leader of the Cameroonian Foundation For AIDS (CAMFAIDS), an association that seeks to promote and protect all human rights.
This entry was posted in Africa (Sub Saharan), HIV / AIDS, Positive steps and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Taking the AIDS battle to LGBT youths in Cameroon

  1. Pingback: New LGBTI groups join the struggle in Cameroon | 76 CRIMES

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