28 Oct JPS Africa Introduction
HIV needs no introduction in South Africa with an estimated 11.2 percent of the population infected with the virus, and high levels of new infections taking place each year. Social drivers of the virus in the country include gender-based violence, the acceptance of relationships with multiple concurrent partners, poverty (that drives transactional sex), and other risky sexual behaviour. HIV is also associated with illnesses such as Tuberculosis (TB), which often require concurrent management.
Many South Africans only interact with the formal health system when they visit clinics or hospitals. These interactions are often characterized by long waiting periods, under-capacitated public health facilities, stigma surrounding living with HIV, and a lack of awareness about the services available. Thus, many South Africans, particularly those living with HIV, avoid going to health facilities until it becomes impossible for them to avoid it. For people living with HIV the work that is performed by Non-Governmental Organisation’s [NGO’s] and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) is therefore invaluable, bridging the gap between health care visits, keeping people informed about their rights and responsibilities in terms of their health, and providing the link between the Government and its citizens.
JPS Africa have a good understanding of the needs of communities on the ground, aiming to tackle the drivers of new infections in a way that is responsive to the particular setting. Similarly, because of funding relationships with the Department of Health NGOs are able to raise awareness of treatment options, and healthy lifestyle choices than can reduce the spread of the virus. In this way, JPS Africa build on partnership relationships to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Although new in name, JPS Africa is not new to the field of working with HIV and associated illnesses in South Africa. Formerly known as Jhpiego SA, but now fully independent, JPS Africa is well versed in both the issues on the ground, and the opportunities to solve them. Their vision of improved health and life quality for men, women and children across Southern Africa, and their method of working with health professionals and communities to build and sustain quality healthcare services in low-resource settings, creates a context in which positive and developmental change can occur.
Through three key programmes (Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, Voluntary Male Circumcision, and Family Planning) JPS Africa is working to promote and support the goals set by the Department of Health, focussing on long term change rather than short term solutions. As a fully accredited service provider, using strategies such as training, education and awareness raising, drug administration, as well as linkage to care, JPS Africa collaborates with others to provide practical, empowering, and long lasting solutions.
Through flexibility and regular monitoring and evaluation, JPS Africa remains responsive to the situation in the country, and to the needs of the people and partners they work with. Most importantly, they see challenges as opportunities for working better together to build sustainable local capacity to fight HIV/AIDS.
 Statistics South Africa (2015) Mid-year population estimates.