According to UNAIDS, 1.1 million Zambians are living with HIV, out of a total population of only 11 million people. The vast majority of those infected are people in the prime of life, whose income and roles as parents are critical to the survival of families and society. The loss of so many parents has left an estimated 700,000 to 1 million children orphaned. Even when extended family members will take them in, many of these children, particularly those from poor households are at risk for neglect and are forced to turn to the streets to support themselves and their families.
PCI has been helping Zambia confront its HIV/AIDS crisis since 1996, working with the most vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ groups, including street children and the military. Today, PCI and partners are working to create the infrastructure Zambia needs to sustain a long-term response to HIV/AIDS. PCI hopes to make a lasting impact by helping people become healthy and more capable of taking care of themselves, and most importantly, live with new hope for the future.
PCI launched a groundbreaking program with the Zambian Defence Force in 2003, building its capacity to conduct, manage, and evaluate HIV prevention activities among its 30,000 uniformed personnel and their families. An innovative campaign, which includes theater, music, workshops, and educational materials, is promoting behavior change and creating awareness about HIV prevention with this extremely high-risk group. The program continues to expand beyond prevention activities to include counseling and testing, care, support, and treatment for those living with HIV/AIDS. Endorsement and participation from engaged military leaders and the Zambian government has enabled PCI to achieve significant results.
COMMUNITY-BASED HIV/AIDS PREVENTION, CARE AND SUPPORT
In Zambia, PCI has established a strong reputation for community-based, integrated health and development programming with specific expertise in the design and implementation of interventions in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the provision of care and support services for families impacted by the epidemic. In 2010, PCI, in partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiated a project to strengthen the capacity of church communities to decrease HIV transmission by implementing, evaluating, and scaling-up HIV/AIDS prevention interventions. Faith-based communities have long played an important role in HIV/AIDS mitigation programs in Zambia, especially care and support activities. Through the Church Partnerships for Positive Change project, PCI is partnering with two national church membership organizations to implement, evaluate, and scale-up community-based HIV prevention interventions through community compacts with church congregations that serve a huge percentage of the Zambian population.
Additional current HIV/AIDS programming includes the COMPACT project, funded through Population Council and designed to develop, implement, and scale-up community-based agreements to decrease HIV incidence in Zambian households as well as to demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of community compacts as an HIV prevention strategy. In partnership with the Academy of Education Development (AED), PCI is implementing the Zambia Prevention Initiative (ZPI) designed to reduce HIV transmission through building the capacity in communities, ensuring continuity of sustainable HIV prevention efforts, designing new locally owned HIV response programs, and providing community based reproductive health and family planning services.
In Zambia, the devastating effect of the AIDS pandemic has also resulted in a generation of orphans, many of whom must raise younger siblings or fend for survival on the streets. Current and past PCI HIV/AIDS programming in Zambia emphasizes the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and their families. In the capital city of Lusaka alone, there are an estimated 100,000 children living and/or working on the streets. Established in 2000 by PCI and the Fountain of Hope, Africa KidSAFE (Shelter, Advocacy, Food, and Education) program is a network of partners addressing the street children crisis in Zambia and providing OVC with shelter, food, medical care, counseling, education, and skills training. In addition, between 2005 and 2010, through the BELONG program, PCI built the capacity of local partners to integrate OVC services into home-based care (HBC) programs, collaborated with 200 community schools and 17 local NGOs to empower communities to care for OVC and provide opportunities for economic empowerment through self-help groups. Over the life of the project, BELONG partners and PCI provided direct services to nearly 252,000 OVC and over 15,700 OVC caregivers in Zambia and Ethiopia.
United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); US Department of Defense, HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP); US Agency for International Development (USAID) through Population Council and Academy for Educational Development (AED); President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); United Nations Child Fund (UNICEF); Global Bike, and various private donors.