Centre for Communication Impact

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AVAC: providing HIV services for SA women and girls

Imagine a world free of HIV in our lifetime? That's why the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) exists.

AVAC is a global HIV prevention advocacy programme that was started in New York about 20 years ago. Its mission is to mobilise world leaders to implement prevention strategies for their respective countries. They advocate for prevention and treatment vaccines designed for people who are HIV negative and those living with HIV.

In South Africa, where women and girls are the hardest hit AVAC seeks to engage leaders of various sectors such as politics, sport and business on the provision of HIV vaccines, a tactic which has already seen success in other countries.

Studies conducted by AVAC have showed that vaccines such as pPre-exposure prophylaxis, which are used by HIV negative individuals, could prevent them from contracting the virus.

To launch the program in South Africa, AVAC teamed up with Zazi to spread their message.

The ZAZI Campaign, funded by the United States Agency for International Development, encourages women and girls to draw on their inner strength and self-confidence to help guide their decisions that affect their future. It also educates women about behaviours that place them at risk of HIV infection.

Zazi supporter, Yvette Raphael, who has been living with HIV for 14 years and is project manager for the AVAC initiative in South Africa, is determined to introduce this initiative throughout South Africa.

"Women and girls remain vulnerable to HIV infections and this programme is aimed at addressing issues such as services available to women. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be an ambassador of HIV prevention efforts, especially to vulnerable populations."

The programme has scheduled trainings for women and girls in Mpumalanga and will spread to other provinces across South Africa.