My 22,000km Breaking the Cycle expedition across Africa in 2009/2010 was an opportunity to explore the causes and effects of extreme poverty. During my journey, while inspired by the amazing cultural diversity and stunning landscapes, I was also deeply affected by many of the situations I was exposed to. I came away feeling empowered to make a difference to at least one of the issues I learned so much about.
As well as supporting education, I have chosen to join the fight against HIV/AIDs in Africa by raising funds and awareness during my new challenge Breaking the Cycle South Pole. I am working with (RED) and CHARITY MILES. 100% of money raised will be directed by THE GLOBAL FUND to specific projects in Africa.
Photo by Zdenek Kratky
(Information from http://www.red.org)
To date, (RED) partners and events have contributed more than $475 million to the Global Fund to help eliminate HIV/AIDS. 100% goes to programs on the ground – no overhead is taken by either (RED) or the Global Fund. More than 90 million people have so far been impacted by HIV/AIDS programs supported by (RED) and the Global Fund. (RED) is the largest business sector contributor to the Global Fund. In Ghana, Lesotho, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia, Global Fund (RED) grants have helped initiatives focused on prevention, education, testing and counselling, supporting orphans and vulnerable children, distributing anti-retroviral medication, working to eradicate mother-to-child transmission, training community healthcare workers and distributing condoms.
About Charity Miles
Hit the streets. Change the world.
Charity Miles is a free mobile application that allows you to raise money for any one of a list of selected charities, including (RED). This is a way to engage in the spirit of my Breaking the Cycle South Pole expedition. During my preparatory expeditions and then while I am slogging it out over the ice and snow, I invite you to be a part of my team – Breaking the Cycle – improve your own fitness and wellbeing and at the same time raise funds to support the fight against AIDS in Africa.
Here’s how to get started (taken from the Charity Miles website)
Simply turn on the app, choose (RED) as your charity, select Breaking the Cycle as your team and press start. As you exercise, we’ll track your distance and the money earned. When you’re finished, accept your sponsorship, spread the word via social media, and you’ll receive a note confirming your good work.
Why HIV/AIDS in Africa?
Right now there are an estimated 23.5 million HIV+ people in Africa. That’s roughly equal to the entire population of Australia! According to UNAIDS, Sub-Saharan Africa shoulders 69% of the global HIV burden.
These figures are horrific, but there is hope. The situation with the AIDS epidemic in Africa is now at a tipping point. In 2014, for the first time, more people received ARV treatment than contracted HIV. According to The Global Fund, with a boost in investment now, there is an opportunity to bring the HIV/AIDS epidemic under control. The Global Fund is accelerating its efforts to achieve this by 2030.
Although the total number of people with HIV is still rising, the rate of infection is decreasing. Due to better national education programmes, improved distribution and availability of ARV drugs, more testing facilities and wider knowledge of management and treatment, fewer children are contracting HIV and fewer people are dying from AIDS.
UNAIDS reports that while most countries are assuming a greater role in funding and implementing their national HIV responses, there is still a significant shortfall in many. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 21 countries rely on more than 50% of funding from external sources such as The Global Fund.
During the Breaking the Cycle in Africa expedition I chose to focus on the AIDS situation in Zambia, one of the nine countries in southern and eastern Africa with the highest burden. Visiting a project in Naviruli in the Chadiza District I learned from a community how overcoming the fears of stigma and prejudice had proved to be the main barrier to being tested. In general, the men were more defiant of being tested and seeking remedies. One fellow explained that when the headman of the village agreed to be tested, and was positive, it led many others, especially men to take the test and face their own illnesses. Pained expressions turned to unrestrained smiles as each member described how the anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy had transformed their lives.
In a nutshell, the program involved setting up and running support groups to educate about the affliction; encourage early diagnosis, acceptance and management.
Photos by Kate Leeming