Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS)
Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS) have been trained and mentored since 2009 to provide counselling and supporting a cohort of HIV positive children, adolescents and young people in communities through home and clinic visits.Identifies adherence challenges, traced treatment defaulters, and proactively identifies and refers children, adolescents and young people in need of further investigation for possible opportunistic infections, treatment failure, child protection issues and their psychosocial support, sexual and reproductive health needs.
These trainings were made possible through permission from the Ministry of Health and Child Care. A team of 686 HIV positive adolescents and young people provide daily support to their HIV positive peers and this has proved to be an extremely powerful approach for supporting children and adolescents with their daily, life long medication. It is also an opportunity for adolescents to develop counselling skills and experience – five of the original team have now moved on to further education including nursing, dental nursing and social work.
The CATS have become the foundation of the Zvandiri model. They are setting the standard for the provision of appropriate, accessible, sustainable prevention, treatment, care and support services. Working within their own communities, they are creating a safety net which their HIV positive peers can be supported through HIV testing and counselling, disclosure, starting treatment on ARVs, difficulties with adherence, stigma and discrimination and relationship challenges. They are doing phenomenal work and strengthening the capacity of health care workers.
Through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the CATS model has been adopted in Tanzania, Mozambique and Swaziland.In these countries, Africaid will be offering training and mentorship services to 377 CATS.