SARCS\'s David Stephens says volunteers can have a massive impact on helping people with HIV seek support.
"If I had 10 million dollars to invest in just one health intervention in South Africa, I’d use it for our integrated TB and HIV programme," says David Stephens, the health and care coordinator for the South African Red Cross Society (SARCS).
"I have seen the dramatic difference our Red Cross interventions make in the lives of people. I have seen people come to us emaciated and without hope. But knowing that someone will come to see you every single day, that they’re helping you and holding your hand while you fight the disease, that is so important in getting cured.
"I have seen it in my own family. My oldest brother was getting sick, but refusing to seek medical help; he was too scared. My sister, who has received Red Cross training and is a volunteer, called me and asked me to travel to my brother’s house and try and persuade him. I went immediately and took him to the clinic. I told him he needs to stay on his medication, and that I would be there to see him through it. And he listens to me, because he has a lot of respect for me.
"And the Red Cross volunteers, that’s what they do for all their patients. They become the brother or sister. They persuade people to continue with their treatment, and show them that there is hope. They work with the family of the patient to help them understand, and cope, and they work with the community to lessen stigma.
"So yes, if I had 10 million dollars, that’s what I would invest it in."