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USAID and IOM Announce HIV Prevention and Care for Farm Workers
Date:3/11/2009

PRETORIA, South Africa, March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Southern Africa launched a new program to reduce HIV vulnerability of farm workers in South Africa's Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces.

The three-year, $5.1 million project is funded by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and administered by USAID. A recent release study by the IOM, identified high levels of unsafe sexual behaviour among farm workers -- including extremely low condom use in casual sex and high levels of multiple, concurrent sexual partners. This report guided the development of an HIV prevention outreach effort to reach the high risk farm worker population.

The project will be known as "Ripfumelo," which means "believe" in xiTsonga. It will target 20,000 seasonal, temporary, and permanent farm workers in South Africa, including documented and undocumented migrant workers through increasing the technical capacity of its implementing partners: Agri-IQ, CHOiCE and the Hoedspruit Training Trust. This increased capacity will lead to the provision of sustainable HIV prevention and care services to farm workers.

"One prevention program doesn't fit all people's needs. Farm workers face higher risks of getting and spreading HIV than many other groups. Our prevention efforts tackle their vulnerabilities, including alcohol abuse, that arise from many factors related to poverty and the transitional lifestyle of migrant workers," said USAID Southern Africa Director Dr. Carleene Dei.

The project will develop a network of stakeholders working specifically on HIV-related issues to reduce the high incidence and impact of AIDS on farm workers, their families and their communities. Partnerships are encouraged among local, provincial, and national government agencies, as well as between public/private entities.

Julia Hill-Mlati, IOM regional project manager, reports, "HIV prevention efforts often focus purely on medical issues and fail to consider interrelated factors that affect people's vulnerability to the AIDS virus. This reason prompts our USAID Ripfumelo project to address the contextual issues such as workplace policies, improving life skills, financial literacy and promoting healthy recreational activities."

Ripfumelo intervention activities include:

  • Tackling discriminatory gender dynamics and prejudices through the training of male role models as gender advocates.
  • Promoting peer-led education and referrals to relevant services and support.
  • Facilitating access to health services, including prevention, counselling and testing, home-based care and treatment.
  • Integrating locally tailored Social and Behavioural Change Communication programs that are developed and disseminated by local Change Agents.
  • Developing and implementing interventions that address some of the contextual factors that impact on HIV vulnerability, such as improving life skills, financial literacy and promoting recreational activities.
  • Creating a conducive environment by strengthening workplace policies and programs.

For more information about USAID and its programs in South Africa, visit www.usaid.gov.

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years.

Public Information: 202-712-4810


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SOURCE U.S. Agency for International Development
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