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August 5, 2008, Chapel Hill, NC—IntraHealth International’s work to gear up the Southern Sudanese military to fight HIV/AIDS is featured at a session on HIV programs in conflict and post-conflict settings on August 6, from 4:30 to 6:30 PM, at the XVII International AIDS Conference. The session—co-chaired by IntraHealth’s Carol Karutu—is part of the week-long conference in Mexico City focusing on new research and major challenges in the global response to AIDS.
With funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), IntraHealth has partnered with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)—once a rebel force but now the recognized military of Southern Sudan—to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS within the SPLA and to increase access to HIV/AIDS services in Southern Sudan.
“The SPLA respects us a great deal for having been bold enough to work with them from within,” says Karutu, who manages the project in Southern Sudan.
Southern Sudan became an autonomous region in 2005 after decades of conflict. While the country has had a relatively low prevalence of HIV, increased migration and trade across its borders present a high risk for the spread of disease.
Despite many obstacles associated with the post-conflict environment—from lack of infrastructure to shortages of qualified health workers—IntraHealth and the SPLA are showing success: the project has established or improved counseling and testing sites and is supporting and integrating HIV/AIDS services in clinical settings outside the military. The project has reached over 135,000 troops with HIV prevention messages and provided HIV counseling and testing to almost 4,000 soldiers and civilians.
“I think the SPLA is really going to churn out the numbers of people who get tested for HIV,” says Jim McMahan, IntraHealth senior program manager.
IntraHealth is now leading an effort to expand HIV prevention activities to other uniformed services in Southern Sudan—including police, firemen, forestry managers and prison officials—through a grant from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). With funding from USAID, IntraHealth is also working with the Government of Southern Sudan to strengthen its health workforce and systems.
IntraHealth International is a global health nonprofit that champions the critical role of health workers in health and development. For over 30 years, IntraHealth has empowered health workers to better serve communities in need, fostering local solutions to health care challenges by improving health worker performance, strengthening health systems, harnessing technology, and leveraging partnerships. The nonprofit’s work is supported and funded by the US Agency for International Development, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, private foundations, corporations and individuals.
Contact: Laura Hoemeke