AVERT Averting HIV & AIDsFor far too long, HIV and AIDS have been a detrimental part of our world. However, with organizations like AVERT that have been at the forefront of the HIV response, there is some hope that this epidemic can be controlled and lives can be saved.

Since 1986, AVERT’s aim has been to “share knowledge, empower people to protect themselves and others from infection, reduce stigma and improve HIV programs globally.”

What makes AVERT’s efforts deserving of recognition is that they are able to reach thousands of people across the world every day — and their partnerships work to ensure that the lives most in need are the ones changed. The organization works particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region whose  history shows limitations in promulgating policies, initiatives and laws.

AVERT’s most important initiative is its role in promoting education as power and using this tool as a way to reduce new infections. By working with community-based organizations, AVERT helps to build the local response to HIV and AIDS in some of the most affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In tackling HIV and AIDS, some of the organizations AVERT collaborates with will include the Umunthu Foundation in Malawi, Sisonke in South Africa, Phelisanang Bophelong in Lesotho and the Bwafwano Integrated Services Organisation in Zambia. Furthermore, AVERT’s global website, AVERT.org, provides a wealth of information for people looking to protect themselves from HIV and to spread awareness of the vital work currently in progress in the field.

The website “supports the global HIV response by providing a well-researched resource on the global epidemic.” With 12 million visitors viewing their website in 2015, 69,500 people receiving HIV tests since 2010 and 20 rural communities receiving support to build networks of elderly carers, AVERT is surely making a dent in battling HIV and AIDS.

With campaigns such as Stand Up to HIV, AVERT is able to highlight the impact of the HIV stigma on one’s health and also aims to empower people to test for HIV. Their animation “Why am I so scared of HIV?” creates a platform for their messages about HIV and AIDS to be shared across the globe. This important initiative has the power to raise awareness and enlighten the masses.

The organization especially touches the lives of the illiterate in impoverished areas, by educating them on the importance of staying protected and protocols to avoid the progression from HIV to AIDS. AVERT is steadily working to ensure that HIV is no longer a death sentence.

The improvements made in battling the HIV and AIDS epidemic have increased tremendously thanks to organizations like AVERT. As the Executive Director of UNAIDS stated in 2011, “a few years ago, we could only dream of a day when there would be zero infections and deaths caused my HIV and AIDS…but today we know we can make it happen.” Today, there is hope because of organizations like AVERT.

Vanessa Awanyo

Sources: AVERT, UN
Photo: Flickr