Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and HIV

The South Africa Regional Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and HIV/AIDS Programme is active in ten countries, including Mozambique.

Southern Africa region remains the epicenter of HIV, with over half of the number of people living with HIV in the world living in this region. Notable progress has been made, with new HIV infections falling by 38 per cent and AIDS-related deaths falling by 49 per cent between 2010 and 2019. However, these fall short of the global prevention targets, with adolescent girls accounting for 25 per cent of new infections in the region.

Key populations, including sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender persons, are disproportionately affected by HIV. Multiple concurrent sexual partners, inadequate condom use, poor access and uptake of services, high rates of Gender Based Violence (GBV), particularly for marginalized, mobile and migrant populations, have increased the risks of HIV infection.

Better future

To help to mitigate this situation the Netherlands has been financing the Regional Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and HIV/AIDS Programme for more than fifteen years. With its support the Netherlands tries to contribute to a better future, reflected in a lower overall poverty rate, reduced inequality, a reduction in violence and human rights violations and increased job and livelihood opportunities for people at risk, prioritizing women and youth.

The current Regional programme covers ten countries and focuses on the most vulnerable groups in the population: in and out-school youth, adolescent and young people living with HIV/AIDS, youth and vulnerable people (YVP), migrants, LGBTIQ groups, people who use drugs and sex workers and is implemented by six partners: Frontline AIDS, Young Africa, Aidsfonds, UNDP, IOM and UNFPA.

Two examples of the six programmes we fund:

Implemented by UNDP in Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional level is the continuation Linking Policy to Programming project (LPP) which have shown that in much of Southern Africa, significant progress has been made in promoting the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of vulnerable communities, including young key populations.

However, there is a need for strengthening capacities of national and regional politicians, decision-makers, influencers and NGOs, networks and community organizations representing the needs and rights of Young Key Populations (YKPs) for equitable access to SRHR, which is the main objective of the #WeBelongAfrica.

The Programme seeks to boost the accountability and responsiveness of state institutions in SADC countries to the perspectives, rights and needs of young key populations on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Target groups are LGBTIQ+ people, other young men who have sex with men and young people who sell sex, all aged 10 – 29 years old.

Reduce violence against sex workers

Implemented by the Dutch Aidsfonds in Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe the objective of the project is to reduce violence against sex workers at community, national and regional level. As a factor contributing to the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) worldwide, reducing physical and sexual violence can prevent up to 25 percent of new HIV infections among sex workers.

Target population are female, male and transgender sex workers, meaning those who receive money or goods in exchange for sexual services. In addition, sex worker-led organizations, law enforcement and police officers, health workers and service providers, lawyers and legal institutions, religious and community leaders and international, national regional and local policy decision makers are other beneficiaries.

The main interventions is based in strengthening civil society by developing sex worker movements with strong rights awareness. Based on the principle of ‘Nothing for us, without us’ Aidsfonds and in-country partner NGOs support sex worker-led networks with the development of tools and skills that make their organisations stronger.

Setting up rapid emergency response systems and bringing perpetrators to justice through paralegals, peer educators and multi-stakeholder response teams is another intervention of the project as well as turning the police into an ally by building partnerships with police institutions and providing training on the human rights of key population.

All countries in the SADC region of the regional program on SRHR and HIV/AIDS (RP) are increasingly confronted with well-organized oppressive ‘push back’ against sexual and reproductive health rights, especially of youth, women and LGBTIQ+ people. COVID-19 has dramatically aggravated these people’s ability to make decisions about their own health, lives and sexuality.

In addition, climate change, terrorist insurgencies, political instability, environmental hazards which have been affecting the already weak health systems in the region with bigger impact in thousands of women, girls and key populations who are unable to access health services.