Prevention of HIV/AIDS Among Personnel in the Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force
Partners: Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force
Donor: US Department of Defense
King Mswati III of Swaziland declared HIV/AIDS a national disaster during the opening of the Seventh Parliament of the Kingdom of Swaziland on the February 19, 1999, when Swaziland had the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world behind Botswana. In Swaziland, more than 60% of new infections occurred in people in the 15-39 year age group.
The extremely high incidence and prevalence rates in this age group created a need for HIV/AIDS programming to reach young and middle-aged adults, many of whom formed the core of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force (USDF). Military personnel throughout the world are among the most susceptible populations to HIV/AIDS because they are young, sexually active, frequently deployed, and presented with opportunities for casual sex. These facts highlight the critical importance of creating effective HIV/AIDS prevention programs for armed services personnel in Swaziland.
In 2001, MCDI was awarded a contract by the United States Department of Defense for Prevention of HIV/AIDS among Personnel in the USDF. The goal of this project was to decrease the incidence rate of HIV/AIDS among USDF personnel, their families, and communities.
Specific objectives included 1) assessing risk behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes of armed services personnel about HIV/AIDS, 2) assisting the USDF in implementing new approaches for effective prevention strategies including public awareness and BCC initiatives, 3) strengthening the capacity of the USDF to support armed services personnel and their families who are affected by HIV/AIDS, and 4) developing the capacity of the USDF to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives.