A training initiative for clinicians and community workers who deliver life-saving HIV services to communities facing hostility and prejudice, was launched this week.
The Afya Academy, a partnership between the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (Alliance) and Anova Health Institute (Anova), trains clinicians and community activists who work with sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people and intravenous drug users,
The first three-day training event in Johannesburg drew participants from five African countries and included sessions on rolling out pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among gay and MSM communities in Africa. The training curriculum was designed to develop participants’ knowledge and skills working with African gay men and other MSM, often in exceptionally hostile and highly prejudiced social and legal environments. The course includes an emphasis on how to reach and engage MSM in all aspects of health care, from ensuring safety, to combination prevention to HIV treatment adherence.
Glenn de Swardt, Global Programmes Manager at Anova, emphasized that the Academy is the culmination of three years of research and planning: “We are exceptionally proud that the Academy – the first of its kind on the continent – has been launched and that we are conducting the first training event. This represents a significant development in how we share expertise, latest innovations and best practice regarding the complexities of key populations and their sexual and social health. We look forward to developing the Afya Academy to become a major contributor to addressing HIV and sexual and reproductive health, and extending services to marginalized populations across Africa.”
Gavin Reid, HIV Technical Lead (Key Populations) from the Alliance, added that: “The Afya Academy builds on our ongoing partnership with Anova which has successfully delivered intensive MSM healthcare trainings to clinicians and communities to support them to sharpen their focus, increase their reach and augment their approaches to service delivery in order to improve health outcomes and the dignity of African key populations in all their diversity”.
Feedback from participants attending the inaugural training event has been very positive. “The Afya Academy is a unique platform where both programme implementers and activists can share local African knowledge and experiences that contribute to the UNAIDS targets through evidence based solutions that target African key populations”
“The training is vital for me to unpack and appreciate concepts I had heard of but didn’t understand that I will use to advocate, educate and implement health programmes in rural Uganda”
“I learned so much about key populations and why they need our special attention”
The Afya Academy will provide regular topical training opportunities, hosted across Africa. The Academy is supported by a website, afya4men.info, that provides nuanced information to MSM in Swahili, French and English. The site is set to undergo extensive revision and expansion in 2017.
Glenn de Swardt, Anova Health Institute: 011 581 5000 / 082 075 7344
Gavin Reid, International HIV/AIDS Alliance: 072 99 44 188
Additional information on the Afya Academy partnership:
Anova Health Institute has undertaken extensive training of health workers within the public sector in South Africa, supported by PEPFAR/USAID and the Global Fund. This has culminated in over 260 public clinics being declared competent to deliver relevant health services to MSM. Training content was developed locally, primarily through Anova’s two Centres of Excellence in MSM health, and through working with both injecting drug users and transgender populations. Anova’s expertise has been recognised by USAID’s EQUIP Consortium to take the lead in providing African solutions to regional key population health challenges with a specific focus on achieving 90-90-90 goals among key populations and through the provision of PrEP.
The International HIV/AIDS Alliance is a unique worldwide alliance of national civil society organisations dedicated to ending AIDS through community action. Our vision is a world without AIDS and our mission is to work with communities through local, national and global action on HIV, health and human rights. The Academy was supported by two Alliance Centres – the Centre for HIV treatment hosted by Via Libre and the Centres for HIV, health and rights of key populations hosted by Positive Vibes. These Centres help to bridge the gap between evidence and practice by drawing on their individual expertise to connect, bring together and develop the Alliance’s collective knowledge, experience and community links on treatment and key populations respectively.