The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) is an indigenous HIV and AIDS service initiative, registered in Uganda as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). It is a pioneer non-public actor in the HIV and AIDS response in Uganda and sub Saharan Africa. TASO is a membership organization with over 4,000 subscriber members.
Since inception in 1987, TASO grown into a household name in the HIV and AIDS response in the country. It is now one of the largest institutions providing the most comprehensive HIV prevention, care and support services.
SERVICES AND PROGRAMS
TASO’s core programs include; HIV/AIDS counseling, Medical care, Social support, Training and Capacity Building, Community mobilization, partnerships and HIV education, Advocacy and networking. The latest addition is Research through partnerships.
Counseling is the oldest service offered by TASO and is the basis upon which the organization was founded. TASO provides psychosocial support in pretest, posttest, prevention, and supportive aspects of HIV/AIDS counseling. This service is effective in providing accurate information about HIV/AIDS, STDs, treatment, Family Planning, human rights, appropriate referral Services centers as well as enhancing living positively with HIV/ AIDS. It also promotes prevention of further spread of HIV. Counseling in TASO is accessed by individuals, couples, children and family members of index clients. Counseling takes place at all the TASO established service centers, outreach clinics, homes of clients and at hospitals where TASO provides support. Each client in TASO is attached to a counselor and there is a lot of mutual trust between the two where principles of different levels of confidentiality are observed. Counseling is always extended to the members of the clients’ family in order to promote acceptance of care of people with HIV/AIDS and encouragement to those who may still be in fear of finding out their HIV Sero-status. It also becomes very helpful during bereavement.
The medical care provided to TASO clients focuses on prompt and proper diagnosis and treatment of opportunistic infections. Systems have been put in place to manage opportunistic infections. This includes a highly trained and experienced medical staff, laboratory investigations and a well-stocked pharmacy. All drugs are provided free of charge including Anti- Retro viral drugs for those who are legible. Septrine prophylaxis and safe water vessel are provided to clients in order to reduce occurrences of some opportunistic infections. Particular emphasis is put on early detection and treatment of tuberculosis and STDs. Regarding the Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) program a lot is done to ensure that adherence to treatment is observed. Close collaboration and sharing of information with other ART providers is key in avoiding duplication of this service. Alternative therapy in form of Aromatherapy and reflexology has proved to be beneficial to all who have received it. Many clients with poor skin conditions, pain, anxiety and depression have been relieved using this alternative therapy.
TASO clients have continuously confided in their counselors that some of their biggest challenges are their children’s school fees and nutritional support especially with the advent of Anti-retroviral Therapy. They (clients) have clearly expressed themselves that if somebody took care of those challenges, a very heavy load would be lifted off their shoulders. TASO’s Social Support Programme therefore comprises of services that seek to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on clients in the areas of child support, Sustainable Livelihoods, Nutritional support and some other discrete projects.
It is now common knowledge in HIV/AIDS Management that proper nutrition is very critical in maintaining and replenishing the immunity of PLHIV. After the contract between TASO and ACDI/VOCA ended, TASO took on the Sustainable Livelihoods Strategy aimed at empowering its clients to engage themselves in Income Generating Activities so as to improve their livelihood and nutrition. Clients were trained to shift towards Strategic food security activities and sustainable Livelihoods. Currently the Multi – Year Assistance Programme (MYAP) is winding down. It was a partnership between TASO and ACDI/VOCA to provide food support to 7000 TASO registered clients in the Centers of Gulu, Soroti, as well as Kaberamaido Mini TASO.
Advocacy and Networking
TASO views HIV/AIDS as a multi-pronged problem that calls for concerted effort from all sectors of life. Through advocacy at local, national and international levels, TASO increases awareness on various HIV/AIDS issues and influences the attitudes of all those in high positions in society. As a result they contribute positively towards the well being of the infected and affected, and they keep the negative effects of the epidemic, such as stigmatization to a minimum. TASO’s advocacy aims at sensitizing people with AIDS and society as a whole to understand the rights and responsibilities of the infected. This is done through:
TASO Training and Capacity Development Function
TASO builds the capacity of individuals, NGOs, CBOs and institutions in AIDS Care and support services. The training courses that TASO offers include counseling, Medical and Community care. TASO has an established Training and Capacity Development Directorate that operates through two arms:
• A Training center of excellence with outreach services at regional level (Eastern, Western, Northern and Central regions of TASO).
• TASO Experiential Attachment to Combat HIV/AIDS (TEACH), which provides opportunities for trainees from other parts of Africa to be attached to TASO Centers for Orientation in AIDS Care, support and Prevention Services.
TASO is involved in a number of research projects all with the aim to increase HIV preventions services. It has so far partnered with the Medical Research Council, University of Washington, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Canadian African Prevention Trials Network.
Visit the At http://www.tasouganda.org/