Even though HIV prevalence in those aged 15 to 24 has been consistently declining over the past few years in KwaZulu-Natal, this South African province continues to experience an astronomically high HIV prevalence rate of people between the ages of 15 and 49. That challenge is very much on the agenda of the Ford Foundation and LifeLine Pietermaritzburg, a South African-based psychosocial support organization working in KZN offering a range of health and wellness services.
Ford has been awarding LifeLine grants out of its Youth Sexuality, Reproductive Health and Rights, as well as its Reducing HIV/AIDS Discrimination and Exclusion programs since 2007.
In past years, all of Ford’s grant money to LifeLine has gone toward the organization’s teen pregnancy and reproductive health programs. But the Foundation’s latest grant of $300,000 (its largest to LifeLine to date) steers away from those issues and turns instead to HIV education for adolescents and young people in KZN.
Ford has long been involved in fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in KZN, and has long viewed reaching young people as a key to this work.
- In 2006, the foundation made a $120,000 grant to Project Empower. The grant supported the development of a peer-led program to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDs among the out-of-school and vulnerable youth population in KZN.
- In 2007, Ford continued its HIV/AIDS work in the province with a $136,000 grant to the AIDS Foundation of South Africa. The grant would go toward the promotion of male involvement in addressing HIV/AIDS, poverty and gender based violence.
- Earlier this year, Ford awarded a $230,000 grant to the University of KwaZulu-Natal toward its reproductive health, sexuality, HIV, and gender norms for university students.
KZN isn’t necessarily the first South African province that comes to mind in regard to HIV/AIDS, but it should be. The HIV prevalence in the relatively small province is among the highest in South Africa at around 40 percent. According to South African Red Cross estimates, 5.5 million out of a population of around 10.2 million in KZN are living with HIV/AIDS.