New grant to improve lives of HIV positive prisoners in Zimbabwe

New grant to improve lives of HIV positive prisoners in Zimbabwe

The BIG Lottery Fund has approved £495,462 of funding to VSO for a three-year project  - ‘Improving Health of HIV positive prisoners in Zimbabwe’.

The prison population in Zimbabwe is at least twice as likely to have HIV and AIDS than the general population. The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service quote HIV prevalence at 28% compared with 15% prevalence in the population as a whole. Risky behaviour such as sharing needles and razor blades as well as unprotected sex in prison lead to high rates of HIV transmission. Over-crowded and unsanitary conditions put prisoners already living with HIV and AIDS at risk of illness. On their release, most HIV positive prisoners receive little or no support, mostly due to stigma and discrimination from their communities of origin.

The new project works to improve the lives of HIV positive offenders both inside prison and on their release. Working with local partners Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV and Batanai HIV/AIDS Service Organisation, VSO has been offering technical support for the provision of better HIV services in prisons since 2013. The announcement of this funding means that the partners will be able to support the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services to offer testing, counselling and peer support within target prisons. There will also be education around preventing the transmission of HIV, both inside and outside of prison.

Vocational training and psychosocial support will be offered to make it easier for prisoners to settle back into their communities and find work on their release. The work in Zimbabwe follows similar work done by VSO in South Africa and Malawi since 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Kaday Mansaray Sibanda is VSO’s Regional Director VSO Southern Africa, she says:

“VSO has extensive experience of working on HIV and AIDS programmes in Southern Africa. Our new focus on prisoners living with HIV, not only in Zimbabwe but the region as a whole, has once again re-affirmed our position as an organisation putting people at the centre of our work, especially the most vulnerable and hard to reach. This grant will enable us offer much needed support to inmates living with HIV in Zimbabwe Prisons, and offer necessary support for them to lead healthy and normal lives, both during their time in prison and afterwards as they re-integrate into their communities.”

ENDS

Contact Ruby Wright from the VSO press office on 020 8780 7640 or 07969983222 email press@vso.org.uk.

Editor's notes

VSO – Voluntary Service Overseas – brings people together to fight poverty through the lasting power of volunteering. We work alongside communities worldwide to create positive change. Our programmes are in some of the world’s poorest countries, reaching millions of people through improved access to services in education, health, HIV/AIDS, disability, and governance. VSO’s vision is of a world without poverty, but we can only achieve this by working together. www.vsointernational.org

The BIG Lottery Fund

Based in the United Kingdom, the BIG Lottery Fund distributes funds raised by the National Lottery for projects tackling the causes of poverty and bringing about long-term change to the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

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