At a meeting on 3 December 2013, the Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) elected the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication as the 6th Principal Recipient (PR) of a Global Fund grant in the allocation of 307 293 214 billion USD approved last September. The GF Secretariat and Local Fund Agent (LFA) are currently working with Soul City to negotiate and prepare for the grant to be signed. Soul City will be responsible for developing and implementing a behaviour change communication (BCC) programme that focuses on young women between the ages of 15 and 24.
BCC is vital for encouraging particular behaviours known to promote health and growth. Before they can reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV, individuals and communities must understand the urgency of the epidemic, be given basic facts about HIV/AIDS, taught a set of protective skills, and offered access to appropriate services and products. They must also perceive their environment as supportive of changing or maintaining safe behavioural practices.
Since HIV is primarily a sexually-transmitted infection (STI), national and community discussions on sex and sexuality, risk settings and behaviours are needed. Stigma, fear and discrimination at community and national level must also be dealt with. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has forced societies to confront cultural ideals and practices that clash with their own. BCC is vital to this process and can set the tone for compassionate, responsible interventions.
Soul City joins five other PRs of a Global Fund grant in this allocation. Tackling new HIV infections in young women aged 15–24 is critical as this target group has been identified as the most vulnerable by the NSP. The programme will reach 18 000 young women, mostly in informal settlements with comprehensive multi-pronged interventions.