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South Africa has one of the highest HIV prevalence levels of any country in the world, with in excess of 6 million South Africans living with HIV. In South Africa, HIV and AIDS is a disease that disproportionately affects women and young girls. Those in the 15-25 year age group are three times as likely to be positive than men in the same age group. Gender inequality makes women more vulnerable, limits skills and weakens the power to negotiate safer sex. Women also face stigma and discrimination, including lack of rights to productive assets, harassment, abuse, and violence.

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As a result of the support of various HIV and AIDS initiatives, South Africa has recently made progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. However, the rate of new infections still exceeds the rate at which people are being placed on treatment, an indication that prevention work needs to be a key focal point. Recent research findings suggest that success in defeating HIV and AIDS will partly depend on the effective marshalling of prevention solutions mobilised through community-based interventions as well as larger national programmes/campaigns.

Recognising the critical need to catalyse and support emerging leadership in HIV and AIDS prevention in countries hard hit by the epidemic, the MAC AIDS Fund (MAF) launched the Leadership Initiative, building a network of leaders in HIV prevention from throughout South Africa. The Leadership Initiative is a one-year programme designed to cultivate emerging leaders in South Africa who will make a major contribution to HIV and AIDS prevention advocacy at all levels. The focus of the programme is on reducing the spread of HIV and the impact of AIDS by seeding new and innovative HIV prevention programmes and promoting gender equality. At present, Fellows of the Leadership Initiative continue to carry out their prevention plans in both urban and rural areas within South Africa.

Hivos-South Africa is part of Hivos, the Dutch development aid organisation, which operates on the basis of humanist values and aims to contribute towards a free, just and sustainable world. Hivos is committed to the poor and marginalised, particularly women – and to the organisations and structures that promote their interests. The purpose of this MAC-HIVOS Collaborative Programme is to provide small grants to community based projects stemming out of the MAF Leadership Initiative in South Africa, as well as to support the capacity development of those projects, with the aim of promoting the development of HIV prevention activities at community level. The collaborative programme, implemented by Hivos-SA, builds on the MAF Leadership Initiative in South Africa by providing grants for project implementation, capacity building for organisations, ongoing mentorship and leadership development. The Programme is closely allied with other programmes implemented by Hivos-SA, allowing for exchange, sharing and cross-fertilisation of experiences and expertise.

Through MAF contribution to this collaboration, the Programme will meet its overall goal to contribute to the reduction of HIV and AIDS incidence and prevalence and its impact on women and girls in South Africa. It will also be able to be responsive to community level HIV and AIDS initiatives, as well as contribute to the overall improvement in the health and quality of life of individuals, families and communities through enhanced capacity of community based organisations.

 

 
 
 
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