The medicines alone are not enough!
Zvandiri is a model of care and support for children and adolescents living with HIV which was first established 15 years ago in Zimbabwe by a group of young people and adult volunteers. Young people are trained and mentored as peer counsellors known as Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters or CATS. CATS are no longer patients,they are now the service provider, working alongside doctors and nurses as a key, valued member of the health care team. Their goal is to help their HIV positive peers to take their medicine so that they their viral load is suppressed; and to help them live happy, confident, fulfilled lives.
We recently completed a two year research study funded by ViiV Healthcare which found that HIV positive adolescents engaged in the Zvandiri programme and supported by CATS do significantly better compared on treatment than those not in the programme.
We found that the Zvandiri intervention worked because it created a support structure around the young person- which acts like a safety net. Each single element of the intervention reinforced the other parts and demonstrated that medicines alone are not enough.
In this film, made in collaboration with the British HIV Association and ITN Productions and the Ministry of Health and Child Care in Zimbabwe we meet Leosa a young woman living with HIV and Maxwell a CATS from the Zvandiri programme. The film highlights the power of the Zvandiri model in supporting viral suppression and mental health amongst young people living with HIV.