Like many other people living with HIV in Sarawak, Aini (not her real name) finds keeping her doctor’s appointments a challenge.
Living in a small village near the West Kalimantan border located 100 km away, she relies on her employer for a ride into Kuching every time she has a checkup at the Sarawak General Hospital, the only government healthcare facility that provides free first line antiretroviral treatment in the state.
The One Stop Support Centre is the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF)’s response to the single largest barrier to HIV continuum of care in Sarawak – the state’s geographical diversity that impedes access to otherwise readily available services. It is the first community-based facility established in Sarawak to serve men, women and children impacted by HIV and AIDS.
Under the patronage of YB Datuk Amar Datin Patinggi Hajah Jamilah Haji Anu, the centre is named Teratak Kasih Tok Nan after her late husband Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem, the fifth Chief Minister of Sarawak whose leadership was instrumental in initiating the state Government’s response to AIDS.
Serving as a halfway home for people like Aini who travel long distances to access treatment at the Sarawak General Hospital, it is able to accommodate up to 12 occupants at a single time.
The One Stop Support Centre offers community-based HIV testing, counselling, treatment literacy, and legal and welfare service referrals, in addition to providing life skills training and other social reintegration support to its beneficiaries. It is being run by Sarawak AIDS Concern Society (SACS), a Partner Organisation of the Malaysian AIDS Council.
Aini is thankful that the Centre is there to help people like her, but, she has only one opportunity that she hopes to create for herself.
“I have always wanted to learn to read and write. I look forward to taking lessons from the caregivers when I visit the One Stop Support Centre for my monthly checkups.”