A REMARKABLE DECADE FOR THE TOPSY FOUNDATION
As the world comes together to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS today, global attention is increasingly shifting to South Africa - the country that the UNAIDS Outlook 2010 Report described as one of the five that stand out as being able to finally break the trajectory of the global AIDS epidemic.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Topsy Foundation, an organisation working with commitment and efficiency to create this change. Topsy has grown in response to the great need in our country, which with only 0.7% of the world's population, is home to 17% of the world's HIV positive people,(UNAIDS). Every year, Topsy has a life-changing impact on tens of thousands of people living with the devastating consequences of this disease in critical poverty.
Founded in 2000, its original mission was to care for children orphaned by HIV and AIDS. Today, Topsy partners with five rural communities at the crossroads of Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng in the fight against HIV and AIDS, offering a web of life-saving medical and social relief services. As the recent UNAIDS Global Report 2010 reminds us, less than 40% of eligible HIV positive people in South Africa are on antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. So one can immediately recognise the need to celebrate the work of non-profit organisations like Topsy who are freely providing this treatment.
Currently Topsy has more than 1,700 patients on ARV therapy at their free Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Care Clinic, (an increase of 200% since last year). Another initiative, the Home-Based Care Project where people are supported in their homes by Topsy's social and medical staff, has also seen a 100% increase in beneficiaries. Through the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Project the lives of over 1,600 children per month are improved through a variety of interventions. There are a number of other initiatives that exist to further assist people.
Silvia de Jager, Topsy's Executive Director, says of the non-profit's overwhelming success over the last decade. "Through the commitment and dedication of our staff we are able to offer optimum care to our beneficiaries. The belief and support of our donors past and present has enabled us to plan for a future in which we can continue to offer efficient and effective services. We hope to create more partnerships in the future as the need for our services continues to grow."
A highlight during this milestone year is Topsy's multi-award-winning 'Selnah' commercial, created by Ogilvy JHB and Egg Films, which features a real Topsy beneficiary - Selinah. Selinah was intimately filmed over 90 days as her health was dramatically restored with ARV therapy.
Dr Jana Oosthuizen, Topsy's Medical Director was on the treatment team. She tells us, "Selinah is no exception to the rule, she is one brave woman that was willing to let us into her life to be able to tell the story of an HIV infected person in South Africa. There are many 'Selinah's'. People who have lost all hope for the future, but through the grace of God could be helped by Topsy to get access to antiretroviral therapy in time to reverse the progression of the disease. "