Afai’s Young Leader Completes Important Research Study In Panama

  • August 11, 2011
  • News

AID FOR AIDS International congratulates Aychell A. Samaniego, former psychologist at our Panama office, for the successful completion and approval of her research project “Qualitative Approach to the Experience of Young Women Living with HIV in Sexual and Reproductive Health Services.” The research was conducted during her tenure with the program Young Women in the Information/Knowledge Society, Youth Researching Youth. The project was done with the support of UNESCO, UNIFEM and UNFPA.

Aychell, who previously worked as program coordinator of the Children’s Program in AID FOR AIDS Panama (AFAP), had the institutional endorsement of this office. AID FOR AIDS Panama facilitated contact with key informants, young women beneficiaries of the foundation, and AFAP supported her with advice at various stages of the project.

For AID FOR AIDS International (AFAI), this research provides an opportunity to generate new findings that reflect the current situation of its beneficiaries, given the progressive feminization of HIV. The analysis will also help develop preventive actions, and more assertive partnerships and advocacy initiatives focused on respecting the rights of people living with HIV and improvement of their quality of life.

“This research, part of the work focused on the right of citizen participation in processes of accountability, sought to systematize the experiences of users in order to generate relevant data that could be taken as evidence by authorities to provide and monitor health care services and advance appropriate corrective actions regarding the care of young women” stated Aychell.

The main objective of the project was to determine the perceptions of young women living with HIV about Sexual and Reproductive Health Services (SRHS) offered by the public health facilities in the Republic of Panama. In addition, the project investigated the quality of such services, according to the perception of users, with the intention of framing and assessing results from a human rights perspective.

The research identified an alarming disregard of the integral health care protocols and of the rights of women living with HIV. The study also found that women often receive their diagnoses in a violent or degrading manner. The data shows limited guidance and information provided to clients about possible options for family planning. Other major violations of sexual and reproductive rights included: non-authorized permanent sterilizations, pressures to undergo abortion, and cruel and degrading treatment from health care providers.

Aychell Samaniego is a psychologist who graduated from the School of Psychology at the University of Panama, and is currently a candidate for a Masters in Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology at the University of Santa Maria la Antigua. She still volunteers at AID FOR AIDS Panama and represents our organization in many important forums, such as the Coalition for Comprehensive Sexual Education. She also continues actively supporting AFAI’s “How much do you know about HIV and AIDS?” program as a facilitator, training youth as multiplying agents in HIV prevention.