Addressing structural barriers to HIV prevention in Southern and Eastern Africa
Article by He-Jin Kim, Nyasha Sithole and Felicita Hikuam from the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa
By now it is obvious that the 2020 Global Prevention Targets and Commitments on reducing new HIV infections in Southern Africa will not be met. As The AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), we now focus our attention ahead and look for the commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The urgency is palpable, 2030 is a mere 10 years away.
To end the HIV epidemic, interventions that address structural barriers to HIV prevention should be strengthened. Since 2017, ARASA has been supported by PITCH to implement the “Missing Piece of the Puzzle” campaign. This campaign demonstrates how structural interventions are the missing piece in the HIV prevention agenda in Southern Africa.
Earlier this year, we convened the second Activist Meeting on Advocacy for the Elimination of Structural Barriers to HIV prevention in Southern Africa with financial and technical support from PITCH. The meeting aimed to review progress made in addressing structural barriers to HIV prevention. The following tools were developed for civil society:
- A series of Issue Briefs on the structural barriers related to each prevention pillar for use by activists in their HIV prevention advocacy.
- A Call to Action for civil society to step up advocacy on structural interventions.
Strenghtening civil society engagement
In September, we held 11 civil society organisations working in 7 countries in Southern Africa. The meetings were to strengthen civil society engagement in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Regional Consultation meeting on Strengthening HIV Programming among Key Populations and the National AIDS Coordinators Meeting held in Johannesburg.
UNAIDS supported part of our meeting to strengthen our understanding of the SADC HIV Prevention Scorecard as an accountability framework for the acceleration of HIV prevention efforts in the region. We also reviewed the draft HIV Prevention Scorecard reports submitted by Member States and drafted recommendations in this regard.
We also explored the prevailing structural barriers to HIV prevention and developed recommendations for Member States on how to strengthen efforts to eliminate structural barriers to HIV prevention. Further, we reflected on the involvement of civil society in HIV prevention policy development and programming at the national level and developed recommendations on how to strengthen this.
Following a presentation to the NAC Directors, they agreed to strengthen civil society and KP generated data (particularly on structural indicators) are integrated into current monitoring and reporting on the HIV Prevention Scorecard.
Moving forward, we will support national level advocacy on the agreed regional priorities regarding advocacy for structural interventions in Mozambique and in Zimbabwe and will develop various resources to strengthen civil society advocacy for the elimination of structural barriers to HIV prevention.
The AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) is a regional partnership of civil society organisations working in 18 countries in Southern and East Africa. Between 2019 and 2021, the partnership will work to promote respect for and the protection of the rights to bodily autonomy and integrity for all in order to reduce inequality, especially gender inequality and promote health, dignity and wellbeing in southern and East Africa. ARASA implements the PITCH regional programme in Southern Africa.