Coffee Talks Help Curb HIV
|Volume 17, No. 1||Winter 2014|
In Ethiopia's Children
The aroma of coffee brewing and corn popping welcomes expectant mother Mintimar, 28, and daughter, Kalkidan, 3, as they gather with others for an Ethiopian coffee ceremony hosted by an Orthodox priest in their town of Debre Markos. The ritual of preparing and serving coffee and snacks to guests is a symbol of hospitality and fellowship. Working in partnership with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC), IOCC is delivering HIV/AIDS awareness messages over coffee as a way to help curb the spread of an epidemic that has orphaned 900,000 Ethiopian children, and infected more than 760,000 of the country's people. Whether HIV-infected or not, children born to women living with HIV face a higher risk of illness and death. Poverty, isolation and limited access to health care facilities often make life-saving care out of reach. IOCC's program aims to reverse this tragic outcome.
More than 720 IOCC trained Orthodox clergy and female community leaders use such gatherings around the country to educate pregnant mothers about getting tested and preventing the transmission of HIV to their unborn children. Men are also welcomed and encouraged to be tested along with their wives. On this day, Aba Tefera, an Orthodox priest, and his wife volunteer for the screening to help remove the stigma of being tested. Mintimar and three other expectant mothers also agree to HIV testing. IOCC has reached more than 370,000 women and 361,000 male partners with its HIV/AIDS prevention message since 2009, and screened nearly 22,000 pregnant mothers and 12,000 male partners for HIV.