South Africa has an estimated 5.25 million people living with HIV, approximately 10.9% of the country’s population. Futures Group’s Sexual HIV Prevention Program in South Africa is a flagship bilateral project of USAID that aims to measurably boost HIV prevention by building the leadership capacity of the Department of Health, Department of Basic Education, Department of Social Development and the South African National AIDS Council to fulfill constitutionally mandated planning, coordination, and implementation responsibilities through the provision of technical assistance. The Office of the President and the Department of Public Service Administration are also major government stakeholders in supporting and directing the work of the Program. Key partners in delivering incluthe Sexual HIV Prevention Program de the University of the Witwatersrand Reproductive Health Institute, the Centre for AIDS Development, Research, and Evaluation, EngenderHealth, and Futures Institute.
The Sexual HIV Prevention Program team is working with community leaders in the health and social sector and with the South African Government agencies to identify and respond to key drivers of HIV transmission to reduce new infections. The project aims to reduce HIV sexual transmission through building national and local capacity to design and implement a package of HIV combination prevention activities. This combination prevention approach will address behavioral risk, social norms, biomedical interventions, and school-based programming.
The Program supports HIV combination prevention activities in the three Provinces with the highest prevalence of HIV in South Africa. Technical Assistance is offered to District & Local AIDS Councils, Health and Education Teams in Regions A & G of the City of Johannesburg in Gauteng Province; Zululand District in KwaZulu Natal and Gert Sibande and Ehlanzeni Districts in Mpumalanga. The technical assistance needed is determined in collaboration with the health and education teams and is monitored and evaluated by the District and Local AIDS Council at local level. Civil Society is seem as an important partner in this process and local civil society organizations will be encouraged to respond to combination prevention activities through a small grants scheme aimed at addressing behavior change communication, gender inequalities and developing demand side initiatives. Support has been offered to Provincial AIDS Councils in KwaZulu Natal and in Mpumalanga..
The districts identified by provinces for the Sexual HIV Prevention Program support are both urban and rural and all have significant numbers of key populations including commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men, migrants and refugees and poor people living in urban informal settlements. The Program will support District and Local AIDS Councils in assessing areas of intervention for HIV combination prevention by defining and identifying these key populations, providing technical support to assess the levels of need and suggesting interventions that support and strengthen local capacity to address these needs. District AIDS Councils will strengthen their services and highlight areas of good practice that can be scaled up and sustained by local communities.
- Identified five district/sub district sites in highest HIV prevalence provinces are receiving technical support to strengthen their combination HIV prevention activities with dedicated technical staff in each district supporting local SAG teams and AIDS Councils;Provided Technical Assistance to Mpumalanga Province in completing its Provincial Strategic Plan for HIV;
- Provided technical support to the National Department of Health, the Department of Social Development and the Department of Basic Education in finalizing their national HIV prevention strategies in alignment with the South African National AIDS Council National Strategic Plan;
- Provided technical Policy support to the Department of Basic Education through technical assistance to support and strengthen life orientation; life skills and peer education skills to approximately 12 million learners;
- Seconded two technical advisers to the Department of Basic Education HIV and AIDS Program;
- Seconded a research officer is seconded to the South African National AIDS Council to provide technical assistance;
- Supported a Management and Organizational Development Review of District and Local AIDS Councils in the Provinces;
- Launched the Civil society small grants program in Zululand District Municipality supporting civil society engagement in gender dialogues, youth training on HIV prevention and innovative condom distribution and uptake monitoring schemes;
- Designed and fielded testing of a Local Epidemic Assessment Process to assist Districts in defining their HIV Combination Prevention needs.