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Achieving Social Justice for an HIV-Free Uganda

By the time Jean Paul* lost his job in 2014, he had grown used to putting up a fight. For years, he had battled HIV alongside his wife, both of whom are active clients at Alive Medical Services (AMS). He was used to fighting for his health – but what he was not used to was fighting for his finances.

Before being let go, Jean Paul had been at his job for nearly three years. He assumed, as it said on his paperwork, that his bi-monthly paycheck deductions were going directly to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). When he visited the NSSF’s office, however, there was no record of his account increasing on file – or the deductions from Jean Paul’s paycheck.

Alarmed, Jean Paul immediately made his way to AMS. Once seated in a counsellor’s office, he laid out the whole story: a great deal of money had been taken from him, and he had no idea how to get it back. To help Jean Paul recover his earnings, AMS linked Jean Paul to a representative of Justice Centres Uganda (JCU), a legal aid centre that helps Uganda’s most vulnerable citizens access the legal services they require. Such a linkage was made possible through AMS’ partnership with JCU, which is overseen by the AMS counselling department.

Jean Paul’s case is just one of 12 that AMS supported this past year. AMS also holds awareness-raising sessions at the clinic, which help patients understand the legal rights they hold as Ugandan citizens. Unfortunately, human rights abuses abound for those affected by HIV – and those who are most vulnerable often have no way of accessing the legal services they need to protect themselves. Violence, theft, housing evictions and general discrimination can make it nearly impossible for people to live dignified lives — and even harder for them to adhere to anti-retroviral treatment.

By making legal services available to patients, AMS helps clients achieve social justice, ultimately allowing patients’ focus to return to what matters most: living healthy and productive lives.

“I really appreciate the care and support I’ve received at AMS,” Jean Paul said. “Soon, I will be receiving the money that was owed to me. I am so grateful for that.”

* indicates name has been changed for the individual’s privacy