Anova’s Family Free project aims to improve healthcare services through awareness and education in the rural Mopani district in Limpopo, South Africa. Founded in 2008, the project is funded by Orange Babies Netherlands and works alongside Anova’s Limpopo-based Khutšo Kurhula team. The project’s main focuses are to raise awareness within the community and to provide educational and psychosocial support. The children’s psychosocial support programme aimed at HIV-positive children, is the first of its kind in Limpopo that offers this kind of support. The children meet at the facilities monthly when they come to collect their antiretroviral (ART) medication. When they do this, Family Free provides age-specific relevant information about taking medication and to motivate the kids to be healthy. The project also focuses in the elimination of mother-to-child transmission (eMTCT) of HIV and new HIV infections in adolescents as well as educating HIV-positive children and their caregivers.
UCSF collaborated with Anova in implementing project Boithato, an evidence based HIV prevention project adapted from the Mpowerment model development and implemented in the USA and other countries in the world. This project aims to reduce HIV prevalence, encourage safer sex and constant HIV testing among MSM in the district. Ultimately, the project will build a community of empowered MSM and reduce stigma and discrimination.
The Boithato project links with Health4Men supported MSM health facilities in Nelspruit.
From 1 October 2016, in collaboration with Aurum through funding from CDC, Anova scaled up the evidence based Boithato Project into three districts, namely Ekurhuleni in Gauteng Province, eThekwini and UMgungundlovu Districts in KwaZulu-Natal Province. The empowerment projects in the three districts are focused on MSM and Transgender (TG) people. With the active participation of MSM and TG community representatives, the three projects were branded GBT Connexions (Ekurhuleni) I-Heart Isidayi (Ethekwini) and Seskhona (UMgungundlovu). The GBT Connexions office is located in Benoni, I-Heart Isidayi in Durban and Seskhona office in Pietermaritzburg.
In line with the empowerment approach, standard activities are implemented across the three projects including holding regular meetings with core group members, facilitating empowerment group sessions, engaging in community dialogues, outreaching into communities, bringing MSM and TG together in large events as well as HIV testing services that include TB and STI screening. Some context specific activities will be taken on board in the coming years. It is envisioned that these projects will reduce stigma and discrimination, promote safe sex behaviours, promote regular testing and linkage to care as well as build strong and empowered communities of MSM and TG persons in the districts.
An exciting new project ‘Faith’ is taking HIV testing services (HTS) to another level. The project, which was born through a partnership between INERELA+ the Anova Health Institute (after securing a grant from Aids Fonds), implements religious leaders to test men for HIV and then link them to care through their congregations.
Over the next three years, Anova will manage the HTS and linkage to care, while INERLA+ will manage mobilisation and training of the religious leaders. It will be implemented in Mopani district in Limpopo Province and Soweto in Johannesburg in the Gauteng Province. HTS and antiretroviral treatment in South Africa is significantly lower among men than in women. Some reasons found for this point towards lack of time due to work commitments and fear of stigma. This project aims to address this testing gap by counselling men, including gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), attending religious congregations.