AIDS-Fondet’s international work includes collaborating with global institutions to fight HIV – as well as working locally with partners in Africa, and historically also in Eastern Europe, to fight stigma and discrimination and ensure equal access to information, HIV prevention, health services, medicine, and a dignified life.
From the top down and from the bottom up, AIDS-Fondet works to end AIDS and curb new HIV infections by 2030.
In 2022 at least 39 million people were living with HIV globally. Even if only about 15% of the world’s population lives in East and Southern Africa, more than half – 21 million – of the global total of people living with HIV live in this region.
HIV in East and Southern Africa
Two thirds of people living with HIV globally were living in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.
And East and Southern Africa alone were home to more than half of all people living with HIV globally.
For forty years the effects of HIV and AIDS in East and Southern Africa in particular have been crippling – and even if medicine and prevention are available, the epidemic is far from over.
The story about AIDS epidemic in 2022 is largely one of poverty and inequality in the Global South – and Sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
This is where the final battle against HIV will play out.
Countries in focus
Between 2022-2025 AIDS-Fondet focuses its programme activities in East and Southern Africa – regions that have some of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world.
AIDS-Fondet collaborates with local and international partners in Malawi, Uganda, Ethiopia and previously also in Zambia.
Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world – and in East and Southern Africa.
Poverty and HIV go hand in hand and it is therefore not surprising that Malawi is 8th on the top 10 list of countries affected by HIV. Around 7% of the adult population is living with HIV. There were 16,000 new HIV-infections and 12,000 died of AIDS-related causes in Malawi in 2022.
Young women and adolescent girls (15-24) are twice as likely to live with HIV compared to boys and young men in the same group.
Poverty fuels sex work and conservative traditional and religious views do little or nothing to promote understanding and acceptance of people with a sexuality or gender identity that is not aligned to mainstream expectations.
AIDS-Fondet works with strong local allies who are trying to change that – and to ensure that everybody can enjoy full access to HIV prevention, stigma-free health care, and a dignified life.
Uganda has made great strides in the fight against HIV – but some groups at risk have been consistently left out of mainstream prevention efforts. These are the groups that AIDS-Fondet works to reach through local partners.
With an HIV prevalence rate of 5.1% in the general population Uganda comes in as number 11 on a list of countries most affected by HIV – with a markedly higher prevalence in most groups at risk such as LGBT+ persons and sex workers.
As is the case elsewhere in the region women and girls are disproportionately affected – around 6.5% of women and girls between 15 and 49 are living with HIV compared to just under 3.6% of men and boys.
AIDS-Fondet has worked on projects in Sub-Saharan Africa for close to two decades.
As of 2022 we are collaborating with Volunteers for Family Development (VOFAD) in Ethiopia and are offering technical assistance to the Itezhi-tezhi Widows and Widowers Association (IWAWA).
Ethiopia – helping orphans with HIV
AIDS-Fondet’s work in Ethiopia revolves around the project Specific Infant Care Initiative (SIC) in collaboration with Norsk Adopsjonsforum (Norwegian Adoption Agency) and the Ethiopian NGO ‘Volunteers for Family Development’ (VOFAD).
The project is designed to span the first 18 years of the lives of a group of orphaned children living with HIV.
The children all had a difficult start to life. In 2005 they were denied adoption to Denmark and Norway when they tested positive for HIV as part of compulsory testing.
The adoption agencies in Denmark (Danish International Adoption) and Norway (Norsk Adopsjonsforum) wanted to help them and teamed up with the Ethiopian NGO ‘Volunteers for Family Development’ (VOFAD) and initiated the Specific Infant Care Initiative (SIC) to ensure that the children were not abandoned.
VOFAD identified Ethiopian families who agreed to take in the children and the adoption agencies in Norway and Denmark committed to supplement the families’ incomes until the children turned 18.
In 2017, however, Danish International Adoption, were unable to carry on and AIDS-Fondet took over the coordination of fundraising efforts and general administration of the project.
By 2022 most of the children are 18 or close to 18 and efforts are focused on raising funds to ensure that the children have skills or (access to) education that will help them find footing as adults.
Zambia - widows and widowers fighting stigma
AIDS-Fondet previously worked with the Itezhi Tezhi Widows and Widowers Association (IWAWA) to inform and enlighten people in the district to create a more accommodating atmosphere for people living with HIV. The project was funded by the European Union.
Itezhi Tezhi is a district in Central Zambia where close to every fifth person is living with HIV – and stigma and discrimination have been rife.
The project ‘Reducing stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS’ aimed at eradicating social expulsion and health related discrimination because of HIV.
Since IWAWA was formed in 2007 it has established close to 30 support groups across the district that provide counselling and support for anyone in the community who might need it. The support groups are founded and run by community members who live with HIV or who have close family who do.
Members of the support groups have also worked to ensure that non-discriminatory health services are available to anyone in need – and with a special focus on girls and women, the groups have worked to challenge traditional perceptions of gender.