The British Red Cross response
Red Cross services
©InfoSouth Africa has around 5.6 million people currently living with HIV and has some of the highest rates of HIV in the world (UNAIDS global report 2010). In one province, KwaZulu-Natal, one in seven people aged two and over are living with the disease (South African national HIV survey 2008, PDF) and HIV among antenatal clinic attendees is estimated at 39.5 per cent (Avert 2009). Despite recent progress made in access to anti-retroviral therapy (ART), South Africa, and especially KwaZulu-Natal, is facing an enormous challenge with the effect the HIV pandemic is having on people’s everyday lives.
A survey conducted by the South African Red Cross in KwaZulu-Natal shows there is still stigma attached to HIV and TB in many communities and people have a well-founded fear of being rejected by family and friends when diagnosed with HIV. Young people still have misconceptions about how to prevent HIV. Furthermore, an increasing number of children are vulnerable or orphaned and rely on extended families and communities to provide their care and protection.
The British Red Cross has been supporting HIV programmes in South Africa since 1999. We support the South African Red Cross’ work in KwaZulu-Natal.
The focus of our programme is:
- preventing further HIV and TB infections
- significantly reducing stigma and discrimination
- increasing the capacity of the South African Red Cross
- expanding and improving the quality of care, treatment and support.
In 2011, the Red Cross reached 582,000 people with information about HIV prevention in South Africa, and supported 14,000 people living with HIV and 14,000 orphans and vulnerable children. In the first six months of 2012, the Red Cross helped around 18,400 people living with HIV and 18,000 orphans and vulnerable children; as well as reaching more than 371,000 people with HIV prevention messages. The programme focuses on six locations: Pietermaritzburg, Zululand, South Coast, Umzimkulu, Newcastle and Howick. Volunteers, facilitators and peer educators work in each district to provide care and support to people living with HIV.
©InfoThrough Red Cross services, we improve the quality of life of people living with HIV and their families as well as orphans and vulnerable children. We help people access food, social and health services as well as supporting their general well-being and other aspects of life.
Teams of specialist facilitators and volunteers deliver structured health education workshops on HIV and AIDS, TB, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence issues, and other related health issues in community settings and people’s homes.
Youth peer education
Peer educators (aged 18-25) are trained to promote life skills and positive living to other young people in their communities and schools, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV and AIDS, and TB.
Hundreds of thousands of male and female condoms are distributed every year, along with training on their use.
Care and support for people living with HIV
Volunteers provide a range of assistance, including basic homecare and food parcels, as well as giving advice on nutrition and establishing food gardens which help with income generation. They also help people access social welfare support. During these visits families and primary caregivers are empowered to manage the work themselves.
Through support groups, people living with HIV and caregivers receive psychosocial support from other community members. These groups also encourage the creation of community food gardens.
Work with orphans and vulnerable children
Orphans and other vulnerable children receive a wide range of practical assistance, including food, home visits, education support (e.g. uniforms and school materials) and support groups.
Support access to testing and treatment
Volunteers give advice on increasing access to ART, helping people living with HIV to adhere to treatment and working with them to prevent further infection. They also promote HIV testing and mother-to-child transmission prevention programmes.
Anti-stigma and discrimination
We are significantly increasing advocacy and championing the rights of people living with HIV, orphans and other vulnerable children, helping them to access the support they need.
Read about people living with HIV