SAfAIDS and HIVOS, under the banner of the KP REACH (Representation, Evidence and Advocacy for Change in Health) programme, and in conjunction with their partners, convened influential stakeholders from multiple sectors who could act as champions and advocate for key populations (KP). The five sectors represented at the workshop were justice, politics, tradition, religion and health. The KP Champions workshop is part of an ongoing process to address gaps in HIV prevention within Southern Africa.
During the conceptualisation of the KP REACH programme, programmers realised the importance of forming alliances with influential individuals across different sectors who could be a voice for KP concerns in spaces where important policy, religious, health, legal and traditional decisions are made – decisions which may create cultural, social or economic barriers for KPs accessing HIV services.
The present workshop was an opportunity to convene these individuals and to clarify what is means to be a champion for KPs. It was a chance to ignite, foster and promote working relationships with other champions who work in the same sector, the same country or in the region. It provided a platform for sensitisation and information sharing on critical issues regarding key populations. The workshop also allowed champions to sit with each other and begin the process of drafting national, regional and sector KP advocacy plans.
The workshop familiarised champions with the work of the Global Fund, HIVOS, SAfAIDS, as well as the architecture of the KP REACH programme. This dynamic workshop was a ground breaking moment in HIV prevention work – it is the first-time champions from different sectors have been brought together to strategise on KP advocacy and to connect with professionals in different sectors working locally, nationally and regionally.
We look back now on a vibrant and introspective experience on what it means to leave no one behind in the HIV response, and why it is important to safeguard those most vulnerable and marginalised.
Although detailed, this report can only give a very limited representation of the richness of discussions and experiences during this three-day event at the Southern Sun International hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. Nevertheless, we hope this report will enhance understanding and inspire champions to follow up on intended actions thought of during the workshop.