Community Rapid and Effective Action Combating HIV/AIDS (REACH) III, Umliba Loya Embili





Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV prevalence at 26% among people aged 15-49. With a population of just over a million, tens of thousands of Swaziland’s children have lost one or more parents to AIDS. The problems they face are exacerbated by poverty (69% of the population lives on no more than USD $20 per month), ongoing drought and a government in fiscal crisis. The epidemic has threatened the wellbeing and protection of Swaziland’s children as the disintegration of family structures has rendered children—adolescents in particular—increasingly vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and psychosocial trauma.

Orphans and vulnerable children in Swaziland face barriers to health care, social support and legal protection. Adolescent orphans and vulnerable children are highly vulnerable to HIV (prevalence rates jump from 3% at age 11 to 10% at age 15) and are in critical need of information about how to reduce their risk. Moreover, HIV prevalence among adolescent girls aged 15–17 years, which stands at 6.2%, is more than four times higher than among their male peers (1.4%). Many of these girls are infected through age-disparate relationships, as girls usually have very limited possibilities to negotiate safe behavior.

Community Rapid & Effective Action Combatting HIV/AIDS (REACH) III project works to reduce new HIV infections in adolescents and young women and provide supporting wrap-around services for 5,500 orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC). This program focuses on HIV prevention for adolescents (especially girls), OVC care planning at community level, and household economic strengthening through community savings and loans groups.

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