August 13, 2008
DAI, ECIAfrica Participate in XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City
DAI was well represented at last week’s XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, which was attended by 25,000 people from 95 nations. DAI’s participation included a poster developed by the ECIAfrica team that is providing HIV/AIDS policy and organizational support for the South African Football Players Union (SAFPU). ECIAfrica is DAI’s Johannesburg-based subsidiary.
Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the SAFPU program builds HIV/AIDS awareness among South Africa’s professional soccer players, equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves against infection, and takes advantage of their standing in South African society to advance the HIV-mitigation agenda.
This workplace program reduces the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS by providing access to voluntary confidential counseling and testing services, sensitization training, and care and support services for players and their families—incorporating international best practice in the context of South African law and the International Labor Organization code of practice on the management of HIV/AIDS in the workplace.
Energetically presented by Tebogo Tshiamo, SAFPU’s General Secretary, the conference poster summarized the program and explained how its stakeholders hope to use the 2010 Soccer World Cup as a platform for an international HIV/AIDS campaign based on the SAFPU model.
The conference’s theme, “Universal Action Now,” reflects—in the words of DAI delegates Louise Hogan and Robert Salerno—a paradigm shift in the outlook of the global AIDS community, from seeing the pandemic as a short-term emergency to approaching it as a long-term challenge requiring a sustained focus on preventing HIV, building civil society capacity, and raising awareness of the linkages between HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health services, especially in reaching out to women and girls at risk of infection.
Health system strengthening (through increased HIV/AIDS funding) and economic strengthening for HIV-affected populations (a core strength of DAI’s integrated approach to HIV/AIDS programming) will be critical to this sustained effort, they note.