Made Efo Suarmiartha
Fellow Since 1993
Yayasan Citra Usadha Indonesia
This profile was prepared when Made Efo Suarmiartha was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
Made Efo Suarmiartha recognized that in order to begin to address the growing problem of AIDS in Indonesia, he had to approach the groups that were most vulnerable to the disease but had the least amount of access to practical information about safe sexual practices: sex workers, homosexuals, drug users. This is why he decided to undertake his initial interventions among sex workers in Bali, the group that, according to Efo, has the highest number of reported HIV-positive cases in Indonesia.His goal is to provide these individuals with knowledge of the effects and dangers of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and information on how to avoid contracting such diseases. He follows up the initial information he provides to people with peer counseling to ensure that they have understood what they have been taught. The distinctive aspect of Efo's initiative is to motivate the same individuals who have been counseled to become peer educators themselves. He believes that this is the only practical way to reach a section of the population that is most vulnerable, yet least likely to (be able to) heed the message calling for safe sexual practices. Reaching them through their peers will have more success than if the message comes from counselors who are perceived as having little or no understanding of the way of life in at-risk communities.Efo also offers sex workers access to medical testing and care, including reliable, confidential methods of determining whether or not they are already infected. For those who test positive for the virus, Efo has established the first counseling service in Bali to deal with the emotional and financial difficulties that come with HIV/AIDS, as well as to provide them with references for medical care.