Addressing the needs of young people living with HIV

Aidsfonds (previously STOP AIDS NOW!) aims to strengthen the coordination of support given to young people living with HIV in the pilot project Addressing the Needs of Young People Living with HIV.

Young people living with HIV

In 2011, 4.9 million young people were living with HIV, of which 75% in sub-Saharan Africa. Young people who are HIV positive are not always aware of their status, or even able or willing to disclose it, due to fear of being stigmatised and discriminated. It is crucial for sectors that work with youth to provide good quality services and understand and respect the unique needs of young people who are living with HIV. Often service providers solely focus on the immediate needs, and fail to sufficiently understand the context and the many different realities experienced. Consequently many young people are deprived from the support they need.

Pilot project

In 2013, Aidsfonds (previously STOP AIDS NOW!), jointly with global and local partners and with young people, started a pilot project. It seeks to contribute to the positive health, dignity and prevention of HIV positive youth by supporting young people living with HIV to articulate their own needs, and by strengthening the overall coordination of support. Through direct capacity building and mentorship the youngsters enhance their skills to advocate for policies that ensure access to the services they need. Strong coordination implies that:

  • young people living with HIV have a central role in the development of programmes;
  • effective referral systems are in place;
  • key messages are evidence and rights based, and;
  • organisations and services make use of available tools that fit young people’s needs.

The project intends to create a platform of organisations working in different sectors in Zimbabwe and Uganda: education, health care, and civil society organisations. Strengthened collaboration ensures learning from each other and sharing experiences, which will result in quality improvement and better access to services for young people living with HIV.

The first phase of the project (2013) is about national level planning. After the mapping studies that are currently being conducted in both countries, representatives of the different sectors will jointly develop a proposal to strengthen support for young people living with HIV. In the second phase (2014-2015), the focus will be on implementation of activities.

Read the practical guide Addressing the Needs of Young People Living with HIV. A Guide for Professionals (2011), developed by Aidsfonds (previously STOP AIDS NOW!) and organisations in Zimbabwe.

For more information, you can contact Nienke Westerhof, senior advisor SRHR at Aidsfonds (previously STOP AIDS NOW!)