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Red Cross and Red Crescent HIV/AIDS Global Alliance launches new initiative

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched a major new community-based AIDS initiative in Southern Africa, the world's worst affected region where more than 11 million people are living with HIV.

"The international community has not made the strategic shift that is needed in order to tackle this problem on the scale that is needed," the Federation's new Special Representative for HIV and AIDS, Mukesh Kapila, told IRIN.

"Southern Africa needs urgent action to turn words into deeds," he said, adding that "not only is this essential ... it is perfectly feasible".

The new US$300 million initiative aims to strengthen prevention, treatment, care and support programmes built up over the last decade, using the organisation's volunteers in southern Africa.

"The Red Cross family is the world's largest volunteer-based network. If we are to succeed in our HIV/AIDS efforts we will have to mobilise the power of the community," Kapila said.

According to Françoise Le Goff, head of the regional delegation based in Harare, Zimbabwe, "With adult prevalence rates now exceeding 20 percent in most countries in the region, and reaching more than 38 percent in some areas, there is an urgent need to take the Red Cross work to a new level, both in terms of preventing further infection and greater support for those already infected."

Over the next five years, the new Red Cross and Red Crescent HIV/AIDS Global Alliance will focus on Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

National Red Cross societies in these countries are already reaching over 50,000 home-based care clients, and approximately 100,000 orphans and vulnerable children. The numbers are expected to double in the next five years, after which the programme will emphasise institutional capacity building, access to antiretroviral treatment and prevention.

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/This article is part of a series on HIV/AIDS and communities of humanitarian concern. Visit: www.plusnews.org/AIDSreport.asp/

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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