Everyday around the world more than 6,800 people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It is estimated that 10.3 million people aged 15-24 are living with the disease and according to UNAIDS, more than 5,700 people around the world die from AIDS everyday.
American Red Cross International Services, in partnership with national Red Cross societies and Ministries of Health in Tanzania, Haiti and Guyana, are helping to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS through the "Together We Can" program.
On World AIDS Day, the American Red Cross reaffirms its commitment to fighting and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. The American Red Cross currently works with national Red Cross Societies from Haiti to Russia by providing technical assistance and financial support, creating partnerships that educate people about the disease and helping those who care for people infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
Educating Youth in Haiti, Guyana and Tanzania
Recognizing the need to educate youth about how to protect themselves and help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among young people, the American Red Cross joined with sister societies to start the "Together We Can (TWC)" program in Haiti, Guyana and Tanzania. Together We Can is a youth peer education program that provides HIV prevention messages, life skills training, education and support to youth.
"TWC works at both the community and individual levels empowering youth by increasing their skills to avoid situations and behaviors that put them at risk for HIV infection," says Kendall Repass, senior HIV/AIDS initiative manager at the American Red Cross. "By working with local Red Cross Societies, the program is able to access a formidable network of community based volunteer peer educators who are profoundly and positively changing the futures of their peers and their communities at large in some of the most remote and underserved regions of the world."
The American Red Cross is currently scaling up its activities through a 5-year, $7 million program effort to reach more than 766,000 young people, ages 10 to 24, with curriculum, peer-to-peer outreach, "edutainment" and mass media-based HIV prevention messages.
With the generosity of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the American Red Cross is providing funding and technical assistance to the program through sister Red Cross Societies in Guyana, Haiti, and Tanzania.
Red Cross Volunteers working on the "Together We Can Program" train youth to develop skills necessary to conduct peer education activities-such as role-playing and practicing responses to peer pressure in potential at-risk situations.
HIV/AIDS Care and Support Program in Russia
In Irkutsk City, Russia, the American Red Cross is partnering with the Russian Red Cross to conduct an HIV/AIDS care and support project to benefit more than 11,000 community members. The goal of the project is to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and children born to HIV-infected mothers. In addition, the group works to decrease stigma and discrimination for PLWHA, to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission and to support the normal mental and physical development of children born to infected mothers.
Building and Strengthening Alliances to Fight HIV/AIDS
Because of the lack in health care personnel in many low income-countries, Red Cross or Red Crescent volunteers are often the only ones able to provide HIV/AIDS services in these communities. As a way to lend support and training to these volunteers, the Global Red Cross/Red Crescent Alliance on HIV was launched on World AIDS Day 2006. The goal of the Alliance is to help expand the efforts of Red Cross/Red Crescent HIV/AIDS programs. This year alone, it has helped to expand the programs of more than 50 national societies.
As the need to increase efforts around the world to help fight HIV/AIDS continues, the American Red Cross will do its part to enhance its own efforts to reach out to those who need it the most.
As part of the world's largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross alleviates the suffering of victims of war, disaster and other international crises, and works with other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to improve chronic, life-threatening conditions in developing nations. We reconnect families separated by emergencies and educate the American public about international humanitarian law. This assistance is made possible through the generosity of the American public.