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24 Feb 2011

Tribute to leaders in HIV prevention and gender

Kim Trollip
Press Release

Cape Town – Completing an innovative four-year programme to identify, train, and support emerging leaders in HIV prevention in South Africa, the M·A·C AIDS Fund Leadership Initiative paid tribute to 38 Fellows at a Capstone Conference which took place at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on 23 and 24 February 2011.

The event included presentations of the work conducted by the leaders, a panel discussion by the programme’s founders, and a keynote address by Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, a former member of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

The Leadership Initiative was launched in 2007 by the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at Columbia University in New York, under the directorship of Dr Anke A. Ehrhardt and the Programme in Global Health, of which Professor Thomas J. Coates is the co-director at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

In 2009 a partnership was later formed with the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC).  The Leadership Initiative was underwritten by a generous grant from the M·A·C AIDS Fund, which was established by M·A·C Cosmetics in 1994 to support men, women, and children affected by HIV/AIDS globally.

Hailing from seven of the nine South African provinces, Fellows were identified through a nationwide search based upon their proven track record as leaders and their ideas about how to promote HIV prevention and gender equality. In total, the programme enrolled 46 Fellows in four successive cohorts. Each Fellow participated in an intensive, in-residence HIV/AIDS prevention training focused on evidence-based HIV prevention, gender equity, and leadership skills. Fellows also designed an advocacy plan for   HIV/AIDS prevention in their own communities.

Upon completion of the training, the prevention plan was implemented by the Fellow with pilot funds and sustained mentoring and support provided by the programme.
During the last two days, the Capstone Conference in Cape Town has highlighted the work carried out by Fellows through their prevention plans, as well as ongoing plans to forge a dynamic and interactive nationwide network to combat HIV and gender inequality in South Africa.

“We are proud of our Fellows and their outstanding work, and have high hopes for their future role in combating HIV and gender inequality” noted Dr. Ehrhardt. “From early childhood education to peer education among parents and youths, from rural farmworkers to juvenile prisoners, and from the business sector to higher education, our Fellows have carried out innovative programmes across a diverse range of populations and settings.”
For further information, please contact Laurie Bruns of UCLA on  082 577 6700, or Vasu Reddy of the HSRC, on 082 337 2057.

For further background on the MAC AIDS Fund Leadership Initiative, please visit:  http://www.hivcenternyc.org/training/leadership_initiative.html