How NPO’s are not letting the HIV pandemic slip into the shadows amid Covid-19

Being home to 20% of all people living with HIV, South Africa remains the global epicentre of the HIV pandemic
Being home to 20% of all people living with HIV, South Africa remains the global epicentre of the HIV pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken our nation to its core laying bear the fragility of our social and healthcare systems in the presence of a devastating disease. This state is slightly reminiscent of another pandemic that has toppled our systems once before, and unfortunately HIV still looms large in the shadows of South Africa’s most vulnerable communities.

In 2019 alone, there were approximately 38 million people across the globe with HIV/AIDS with an estimated 1.7 million new cases, according to UNAIDS. Being home to 20% of all people living with HIV, South Africa remains the global epicentre of the HIV pandemic and interventions cannot be side-lined – even in the face of another crisis. Fortunately, there are organisations like HIVSA who are still catalysing change at grassroots levels.

Established in 2002, HIVSA is a Gauteng-based non-profit organisation (NPO) that develops and implements innovative social support programmes for people infected with and affected by HIV and Aids. HIVSA predominantly serves communities in the greater Soweto, Orange Farm and Sedibeng regions of Gauteng and has a local reach of roughly 3.5 million people.

The organisation specialises in designing, implementing and monitoring community strengthening initiatives that mitigate the negative impact of HIV. By training both clinical and non-clinical health personnel in Johannesburg, HIVSA has continued to provide capacity-building support to the Department of Health. Their work has led to an increase in the number of skilled community health promoters and has heightened access to healthcare services for communities in Gauteng.

HIVSA has been a partner of USAID for the past 5 years and are also a partner of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project.

To continue the ground-breaking work they do, HIVSA relies solely on donations and contributions as they operate as a non-profit organisation and one of their contributors is the Discovery Fund. The Discovery Fund is one of Discovery’s corporate social investment platforms that aims to strengthen and improve health systems in SA by, amongst other, developing human capital and skills, providing support for maternal and child health and investing in community health. It also provides support to health policy, advocacy and infrastructure programmes.

“The Discovery Fund forms part of our complementary and integrated approach to achieving our ambition to be a force for social good, recognising that many grassroots organisations are able to drive significant change even with modest assistance,” says Ruth Lewin, Head of Corporate Sustainability at Discovery.

Although the Discovery Fund has supported HIVSA since 2014, they approved a further three-year grant totalling R1.2 million from 2019 to 2020. This funding will go towards the costs of the Accelerated Community Health Worker Training Project through which community health workers are upskilled in index training, couples counselling, HIV testing services, paediatric HIV training, sexually transmitted infections and TB training amongst other things.

This training programme from HIVSA’s strategically aligns with the Discovery Fund’s Human Capital and Skills Development strategy through the upskilling of healthcare workers to provide quality healthcare making it a first-rate collaboration between a local organisation and big corporate.

This post was sponsored by Discovery and produced by BrandStudio24.

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