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"Only the people can liberate themselves from the AIDS epidemic." This was the motto with which Humana People to People started its campaign against the HIV epidemic in year 2000 under the name Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE). Since then more than 14 million people in southern Africa has been reached by the program, 4.5 million people in South Africa alone.
Much has been achieved over the years to control the epidemic. The awareness is much higher, the access to services such as HCT and PMTCT is much better and so is the access to treatment, which was non-existent 10 years ago. The health care system in South Africa has undergone a major shift, where health professionals have been trained to provide services, which they could not do before.
"We are saluting this effort. All this has saved and improved the lives of many South Africans, both to avoid being infected or to live with HIV. But still the fight is not over, because it is a fight at many levels in society," says Kilford Zimondi, National TCE Program Coordinator for Humana People to People in South Africa. "We believe that HIV & AIDS and now integrating TB is still disastrous in a world with high levels of wealth and high-tech solutions."
Zimondi adds that the demand for reaching zero new infections and zero stigma has to be taken serious and still more resources have to be allocated, especially to reach those most affected.
Humana People to People's TCE program goes to the marginalized and most disadvantaged communities where the need for information and mobilization is still very high. TCE's Field Officers are everyday confronted with ignorance, misconceptions and hopelessness, and they work tirelessly to support every individual.
TCE works closely with all other stakeholders in those communities, including the staff at rural clinics, local leaders and traditional healers, who are the leaders and professionals feeling the burden of HIV & AIDS and TB every day.
Humana People to People celebrated ten years in the fight against HIV & AIDS earlier this year and launched a book with a collection of stories from the field told by the Field Officers and other stakeholders.
Onicah Lephale (28) joined TCE over a year ago as a Field Officer in the Sephokubje area to help her community. "There was never enough education and information on HIV & AIDS where I came from; especially the kind of information that come directly to your house and are delivered to you at the comfort of your home, where you are free to ask questions and raise issues at your own pace without fear of what the next person might think of you".
TCE is still active in KwaZulu-Natal, but Humana People to People aims to extend the program to many more communities all over South Africa. Without all the people involved, South Africa will still carry the burden of HIV & AIDS. It is only the people who can liberate themselves.
The TCE book can be downloaded from the HPP-SA website www.hpp-sa.org.
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