Increased Funding Will Expand Peace Corps' HIV/AIDS Programs
July 14, 2004WASHINGTON, D.C., July 14, 2004 – As international and national organizations are beginning to recognize the need for programs to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, the Peace Corps continues to build on nearly a decade of experience in HIV/AIDS education and prevention through increased funding levels.
This week, Director Gaddi H. Vasquez received confirmation that the Peace Corps will be given over $1.1 million from President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to enhance programs in six African countries heavily impacted by the virus. The funds will be used to support volunteer projects in the field. In 2003, 1,494 volunteers were directly involved in HIV/AIDS education and prevention. In addition, all Peace Corps posts in Africa and nearly half the posts in Inter-America, the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia carry out HIV/AIDS activities, most often as secondary projects.
"Peace Corps volunteers, through their integration into communities, are at the forefront of the global battle against HIV/AIDS. I am pleased that the President, and other organizations, recognize the monumental role volunteers have in promoting HIV/AIDS education and prevention in their communities," said Director Vasquez.
Warren Dalal, a volunteer in Kenya, is one such volunteer who has impacted his community through grassroots projects. Dalal has worked with the local Live With Hope Center to organize support groups in association with the local voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) center. Due to the trust he has created in his community, Dalal has been able to mobilized people to get tested and to enter counseling sessions.
"As a teacher in Kenya you have the vantage point in knowing all of the people in the community," said Dalal. "However, my real success has to be attributed to the youth and the school-based health clubs we have started. The youth are able to reach the community through many creative modalities."
Across Africa and the world, volunteers continue to impact their communities in 43 health and HIV/AIDS project areas that are as diverse and varied as the volunteers. The $1.1 million will fund projects in six of the hardest hit African countries:
Also this week, a group of volunteers attended the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, which included a meeting with Ambassador Randall Tobias, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. The volunteers explained to Ambassador Tobias the unique role that the Peace Corps continues to have ie volunteers explained to Ambassador Tobias the unique role that the Peace Corps continues to have in fighting the global pandemic.
World leaders have called HIV/AIDS the greatest development challenge of our time. The World Health Organization estimates over 40 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Last year, over 3 million people died as a result of the virus. The Peace Corps created an official HIV/AIDS initiative in 1997, even though volunteers have been working in areas hardest hit by the pandemic since the 1980s.
Since 1961, more than 171,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.