SPOTLIGHT: Lhak-Sam (BNP+), Bhutan
Lhak-Sam (BNP+) is the first and only network of HIV positive people in Bhutan.
Registered in November, 2010, its main aim is to promote and provide leadership, education and capacity building for people living with HIV and their families in the landlocked South Asian nation.
It is also seeking to establish linkages with regional and international PLHIV and is the latest member of the Multi-Country South Asia Global Fund HIV Programme (MSA), which is based out of the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub.
“Despite the fact that reaching HIV positive people is difficult in Bhutan, one of Lhak-Sam’s main successes has been to expand its network to 151 members, including children,” says programme manager Chencho Dem. “We have helped reduce stigma and discrimination in the community through advocacy and educating PLHIV so they can have a healthy and meaningful life.”
However, the organisation also faces challenges including limited resources for programme activities, lack of inclusiveness from the government at the decision-making level and ongoing stigma and discrimination towards PLHIV.
Bhutan’s HIV epidemic is small relative to its neighbours, with 270 cumulative reported cases since the first case was detected in 1993. Presently, an estimated 988 people (or below 0.1 percent of the adult population) are living with HIV in Bhutan.
Copyright: APCOM 2014