Togo, a narrow strip of land on Africa’s west coast, has struggled for years with political violence, dire poverty and governance problems. Over 60% of the Togolese population lives below the poverty line, with higher incidence in rural areas. People leaving rural areas in search of a better life usually settle in the outskirts of the capital, Lom├®, in suburbs that are poor and lacking basic health, sanitary, educational and social services.
AIDS poses higher risks in such an environment of poverty and lack of opportunity. In 2008, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS was 6.3% in Lome╠ü and its outskirts, nearly double the national rate of 3.2% recorded a year later.
Determined to do something to combat poverty and HIV in such areas, the West Africa Jesuit Province has set up two centres in Ago├¿-nyiv├®, on the outskirts of Lom├®, including the Centre Esp├®rance Loyola (CEL ÔÇô Loyola Hope Centre) dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS.