The HIV epidemic in South Africa is among the world’s most severe and bears a female face: More than half of South Africans living with HIV are women, and 29% of pregnant women accessing public health services in 2008 tested positive for HIV. Accompanying and helping drive the HIV epidemic in South Africa is a second epidemic of sexual and domestic violence towards women. Violence and the threat of violence increase women’s vulnerability to HIV infection and other negative reproductive health outcomes.
Since 1995, EngenderHealth’s work in South Africa has focused most notably on transforming men’s attitudes and behaviors to reduce gender-based violence and HIV prevalence. We also have worked to improve reproductive health services, including screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.
Involving Men As Partners
In an effort to address gender-based violence-part of a larger effort to reduce the spread of HIV-EngenderHealth launched its landmark Men As Partners (MAP) program in South Africa in 1996. The program, which includes a series of workshops, peer-education initiatives, and media outreach, challenges men’s attitudes and behaviors that compromise their own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of women and children. Project milestones include:
- Men As Partners Week, held in April 2007, 2008 and 2009 and co-sponsored with local partners: The week marked the launch of a media campaign with the theme “I am a partner,” designed to help men understand what it means to be a true partner in relationships, families, and communities.
- Widespread in MAP workshops and community activities.
- Selection as a finalist as for a prestigious Red Ribbon Award at the XVI International AIDS Conference. The MAP program was recognized for its innovative contributions to reducing the spread of HIV in South Africa.
Currently, EngenderHealth’s activities in South Africa focus on:
- Implementing strategies to change harmful gender norms
- Providing technical assistance to the district departments of health to provide male-friendly reproductive health and HIV prevention services
- Enhancing mobile HIV counseling and testing, making these services available in underserved areas
- Advocating for sound reproductive health and HIV and AIDS policies
- Engaging police officers through workshops, discussion groups, and other activities to challenge negative gender norms and reduce coercion and violence in communities
South Africa HIV/AIDS Sexual Prevention Program (SHIPP)
The USAID Sexual HIV Prevention Program (SHIPP) is South Africa’s flagship bilateral project, managed by Futures Group in partnership with EngenderHealth and other local and international partners. The SHIPP project aims to increase the HIV prevention capabilities across South Africa, at the national, province and district levels. Collaborating with the South African National AIDS Council, the National Department of Health (NDOH), province and district AIDS Councils, and the Department of Basic Education, EngenderHealth is working to:
- Integrate gender into all HIV-related public health strategies and activities
- Incorporate comprehensive HIV prevention strategies and information into all education-related policies and programs for schools and communities
- Support the South African government and community organizations in quality assessment and improvement of HIV prevention services