2014
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SAfAIDS position on miracle remedies

“Miracle drugs” could put the lives of people on ARVs at risk. http://www.safaids.net/content/stay-alive-and-healthy-%E2%80%93-take-your-arvs-not-%E2%80%9Cmiracle-drugs%E2%80%9D

2014
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A visit to Lesotho

Zvandiri facilitators, Loyce (left) and Auntie Eliza (third from left) in Lesotho with representatives from Baylor Clinic and members from the Teen Club.

Zvandiri facilitators, Loyce (left) and Auntie Eliza (third from left) in Lesotho with representatives from Baylor Clinic and members from the Teen Club.

Loyce Maturu a CATS member had a chance to share her story with her peers from another country in Southern Africa. This meeting was a share and learn platform for both Zimbabwe and Lesotho, during this meeting issues that came out mainly bordered around lack of adolescent activities, participation as well as stigma thus affecting their confidence.

Secure the Future, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation is supporting Teen Clubs in Lesotho and Zvandiri in Zimbabwe and this was an opportunity to bring teens from both countries together. Africaid was asked to share its teen-led approaches with HIV positive teenagers attending the Teen Club in Lesotho so that they may also integrate similar approaches within their programmes.

Eliza(middle) with the adolescents enjoying their lunch

Eliza(middle) with the adolescents enjoying their lunch

The three day learning and sharing workshop was held in Maseru and was developed through consultation between staff at Zvandiri in Zimbabwe and Baylor’s Centre of Excellence in Lesotho.

This brought together two facilitators from Zvandiri, Aunt Eliza and Loyce (counsellor and youth respectively) together with a team of 15 people from Baylor Clinic and the Teen Club. Loyce met with other HIV positive teens and young people in Lesotho and managed to share different approaches used in Zimbabwe.

Eliza with Sam "I have learnt from Loyce that I can fight stigma."

Eliza with Sam “I have learnt from Loyce that I can fight stigma.”

The teens in Lesotho are so enthusiastic to take up the different approaches with much interest on the CATS model as they feel they have to help their peers in the community to cope well with their HIV status as well as other challenges associated with those living with HIV.

Feedback after the visit reported that the team in Maseru was so inspired by the way Loyce presented herself with so much confidence and how well informed she is about her HIV status.

2014
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Workshop on eMTCT

Africaid managed to be in a team which was developing a 2014 Advocacy and Communication work plan as well as developing the framework for monitoring and evaluation for the 2014 communication work plan for Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (eMTCT).  Africaid through its representatives pointed across the issue to have teenagers as one of the groups to target in creating demand for the eMTCT program. This is due to the fact that young girls are engaging in sexual intercourse at a very young age. A representive from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare also shed light on the shift from option A to option B+. Thus in light of the meeting on eMTCT the program’s representative was encouraging the participants to sensitize their organisations on the new policy. This policy eliminates the need for HIV+ pregnant expectant mothers to be eligible for ART initiation based on CD4 of 350cells or to be in WHO Clinical Stage 3 & 4 but to be started due to pregnancy and HIV+ status.

2014
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Challenges young people face in relation to ARVs

In December, the teens from Zvandiri were so happy to be invited by WHO, Geneva to help them record this radio show. Listen here to find out more about the challenges young people face with adherence to ARVs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_YB6b6sGmA

2014
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Child Sensitive Social Policies International Conference 2014

With support from UNICEF Zimbabwe, the Women’s University in Africa hosted the first International Child Sensitive Social Policies conference recently at the Meikles hotel in Harare. The theme for this conference was “Towards a Child Sensitive Society in Zimbabwe”

Professor Hope Sadza (Vice Chancellor of Women’s University in Africa) in her speech mentioned that many countries have struggled with increasing incidences of violence and exploitation of children, neglect and social exclusion of vulnerable children especially girls and children with disabilities. When matters stand like this then there is no other way than to call for in depth investigations about how child protection and social protection systems operate, their shortcomings; their success and if they can be improved. Through the partnership between the Women’s University in Africa and UNICEF, the former is offering a Post-Graduate Diploma in Child Sensitive Social Policies (CSSP), meant to promote the rights and wellbeing of children and women.

Someone once said that “anything for us, without us is against us!” and true to the saying, the conference engaged children and gave them an opportunity to participate in discussions on matters that affect them. Delegates at the conference included Mr Reza Hossaini, the UNICEF country representative in Zimbabwe, Dr David Parirenyatwa, The Minister of Health and Child Welfare including students, academics, non-governmental organizations, research networks, international agencies and donors from various African countries.

2014
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Rujeko and Africaid exchange program

Loyce (standing), leading the discussion.

Loyce (standing), leading the discussion.

Yesterday we had an exchange visit from Rujeko Home Based Care Programme here at Zvandiri house. Adolescents from both organizations were in attendance and also facilitated at the meeting. Rujeko is a community based organization with Head offices situated in Mutare with its field offices in Buhera south district (Birchenough bridge). The organisation seeks to provide HIV and AIDS services in terms of prevention, care and support. The meeting started off with both parties sharing their history and what they have achieved so far.

Children and youths in Buhera south district were neglected as there were no support structures for them which is why Rujeko Home Based Care Programme is establishing support groups. During the meeting we learnt about a special toolkit used by Rujeko as a way of informing its young patrons. Join In Circuit (JIC) toolkit includes 7 stations which are pitched for the youths and in each station you learn how to become more responsible for your life in whatever situation you might be facing. The toolkit also helps in teaching solidarity and making it easy to share with your peers. Rujeko taught us an important aspect –in life it is not always about your status (poor or rich, HIV positive or negative) but its all about enhancing yourself in becoming a part of a responsible generation.

We then held a mock support group and adherence was a hot issue and many questions arose about whether to take ARVs without eating first but it all came down to “If there is no food prepared, taking your medication on time is more important than not taking because there is no food, do as the situation requires and also do not be selective, whatever is available at home, eat it because it is good for you!”