One Timor-Leste Soldier’s Call To Help Stop HIV Infection

CWS Timor Leste | November 13, 2016

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Sergeant Alonso, an experienced F-FDTL facilitator and close CWS ally, leading a basic educational session about HIV in the country. Photo: CWS

Sergeant Luis da Costa is the commander of a 15-person Timor-Leste army (F-FDTL) post in Becora, a neighborhood in Dili. Since it is such a small post, not all personnel have had a chance in the context of CWS partnership with the army, to join in HIV and STI awareness-raising activities – and, importantly, to take an HIV test. Since the Sergeant knew about CWS HIV education activities from other posts, he asked us to engage at his new post because, as he explained it, “I am really concerned about the HIV situation in the country. When I read the newspaper or listen to the radio, I hear news that the number of HIV infections increases year by year. I think it is not just the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to do something about this. It is also our own responsibility to prevent HIV.”

The CWS team was happy to respond by engaging Sergeant Alonso, an experienced F-FDTL facilitator and close CWS ally, who led a basic educational session for which all participants showed enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn about HIV in their country. Basic knowledge of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) and of sexual and reproductive health, as well as the correct use of condoms, were more specific topics of interest. All participants also took the opportunity for HIV testing to know their status, and counseling was offered by an army lab technician and trainer, supported by the CWS team. Sergeant da Costa said, “Of course it is important for F-FDTL to have healthy personnel to protect the country. But most important is better information, and services, so we can save lives.”

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