HIV and AIDS in Southern Africa
How Oxfam is tackling the pandemicMining companies, bars, churches and universities – Oxfam Australia and Oxfams worldwide are working with some strange bedfellows to tackle HIV and AIDS across Southern Africa. But the diverse groups are part of a strategy to both prevent HIV infection and care for patients and their families affected by AIDS. Oxfam is working with many partners across Southern Africa in Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Levels of HIV infection in Southern African countries are among the highest in the world. In Mozambique nearly one in ten people is HIV-positive, in a population of just under 20 million. In South Africa the rate is nearly one in eight people, in a country of 47.4 million. Zimbabwe is even more affected by the disease, where nearly one in six people is living with HIV in a population of 12 million.
An overview of the issuesDifferent countries have their own problems, sometimes compounded by tense and volatile political climates. But generally the underlying issues are common when examining the incidence and spread of HIV in Southern Africa:
- Access to confidential testing and counselling
- Access to health services and treatment
- Food insecurity
- Access to condoms and femidoms (female condoms)
- The ability to negotiate safer sex
Combining prevention, care, support and treatmentIt is widely recognised that an effective HIV program must provide a continuum of care – integrating prevention, treatment, care and support. Oxfam Australia assists partner organisations to develop and strengthen skills, resources and knowledge in order to provide an integrated approach to HIV and AIDS. In doing so ,partners have also extended and strengthened their work to include broader issues such as TB infection, food security, livelihoods, orphans and vulnerable children as well as strengthening links with government services and addressing issues around access to ART.
Home-based careHome-based care is a vital part of care for people living with HIV and AIDS in Southern Africa. Home based carers not only provide practical lifesaving healthcare and support but also raise awareness in communities about HIV and AIDS to breakdown ignorance and stigma. Typically, home based carers help people access vital antiretroviral medication and provide basic healthcare and wound management. They also dispense medicines, accompany patients to hospital and HIV testing centres and deliver food to ensure clients get the nutrients they need. And most importantly they provide social contact, companionship and psychological and spiritual support, as well as helping with household chores, such as cooking, cleaning, fetching water and caring for the children. Watch two videos in which South African community care workers discuss the ins and outs of home-based care.
Improved health deliveryOxfam Australia supports partners such as the KwaMakhutha Community Resource Centre (KMCRC) in advocating for improved access to health services and treatment. We recognise the vital role governments and government services must play in the treatment and care of people living with HIV and AIDS. KMCRC, through educating and supporting the local community, engaging with local service providers and advocating for improved health delivery, has achieved:
- The opening of a 24-hour health clinic to replace a once a week mobile clinic
- The opening of a new ARV treatment site closer to the community