HIV and AIDS

VSO works to support people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in 16 programmes across Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Our objective is to improve the health of those affected and infected through strengthening prevention work and increasing the availability of treatment, care and support. At the same time people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS often face particular challenges in gaining an education, securing a livelihood or accessing basic legal rights (due to the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS) and VSO's programmes seek to address their needs in a holistic way.

Africa

In Africa, where HIV and AIDS are widespread and have a devastating impact on the lives of millions of people, our work supporting children has become a strong feature. By the end of 2007, 15 million children had been orphaned by HIV and AIDS worldwide (source: UNAIDS). Children as young as 10 years old are often left to care for younger siblings or must become the family's main income earner, missing out on the chance to go to school and learn skills that will help them build a successful and healthy future.

VSO offers these children support and therapy to address the impact of HIV and AIDS on their lives, and volunteers are working with agencies that run community schools (non-formal education) to ensure that children who do work or have to care for other members of their family are still able to get an education.

Regional AIDS Initiative of Southern Africa (RAISA)

We also operate the Regional AIDS Initiative of Southern Africa (RAISA), which is an initiative that works to tackle the impact of HIV and AIDS in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As well as international volunteer placements, the programme includes:

  • Advocacy initiatives to encourage policy change on behalf of people living with HIV and AIDS, orphans and vulnerable children, home-based carers and key populations such as prisoners, men who have sex with men and sex workers.

  • Networking activity to build links between communities, national governments and regional bodies.

  • Small grants to support awareness-raising, income generation activities and the adoption of wider social protection measures.

  • Training events, international conferences and learning exchanges.

  • Support to national volunteering initiatives to ensure that unpaid home-based carers and community volunteers are recognised and suitably rewarded and supported for the essential work they carry out.

Asia

In Asia, where HIV and AIDS are not as widespread, VSO's work in health, education and secure livelihoods in several countries identifies those living with HIV and AIDS as particularly vulnerable to poverty, stigma and social exclusion. We work to increase public understanding about the stigma they face and how this affects their ability to access the information, education and healthcare advice they are entitled to.

Advocacy and campaigning

Inequality between women and men continues to fuel the HIV and AIDS pandemic and to increase the negative impacts on women and girls, and we have highlighted this in our AIDS Agenda international advocacy work. The work calls on governments to recognise that the burden of caring for people living with HIV and AIDS is predominantly being placed on women and girls. These carers are usually unpaid, untrained, unsupported and unrecognised.

A number of our programmes are also promoting the involvement of men in community and home-based care and strengthening public health systems to relieve some of the burden on voluntary carers.

Godfrey Canwat and Mukto Akash (Bangladesh - HIV and AIDS)

Joint publications

VSO's key positions on HIV and AIDS

Learning papers and guides

Key policy reports/briefs

VSO-RAISA reports

VSO International