In Zimbabwe, 13.5% of young people aged 15-24 are living with HIV. However, as only 64% of young women and 47.5% of young men have ever tested for HIV, prevalence among this group could be significantly higher. The Zvandiri programme aims to support national HIV systems to provide a comprehensive package of care for children, adolescents and young people living with HIV, which is responsive to their clinical and psychosocial needs and experiences. Children, adolescents and young people living with HIV are at the heart of the programme, whereby they take the lead in designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating Zvandiri activities.
Africaid in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care trained 1,400 Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS) across Zimbabwe. CATS are adolescents and young people living with HIV between the ages of 18-24 years who offer differentiated service delivery to their peers.
The Positive Action Challenges competition called for an innovative digital solution for engaging, training and supporting Zvandiri’s Peer Supporters who provide essential community outreach and care. The focus is ‘supporting the supporters’ to ensure quality services are delivered, and to reduce burn out.
The SHM Foundation won the bid with an integrated programme that adapts the Khuluma model – peer to peer text-message support groups for adolescents living with HIV - for the specific needs of CATS. A key aspect of Khuluma is the focus on creating a sustainable ‘train the trainer’, which lead to the creation, 5 years ago, of a mentorship programme that trains ex-participants to become facilitators of the new support groups. Using the expertise gained through working with Khuluma’s adolescent mentors, Project Zvandiri-Khuluma (ZK) will support peer mentors to support themselves, through digital support groups and participatory research methods.
As part of the programme, two South African mentors from Khuluma will travel with The SHM Foundation team in October to participate in co-design workshops alongside CATS from Zvandiri, aimed at adapting the intervention for their needs.
Following this, the text message support groups will begin with Khuluma’s trained peer mentors and Africaid Zvandiri supervisors facilitating the groups of 10-15 CATS across the country as they share experience, questions and knowledge. Additionally, interactive training sessions from professionals will be provided via text message.
The SHM Foundation’s technology provides a platform for meaningful messaging amongst groups who share a common purpose and experience. As opposed to technologies that engage with the public, the text message support group provides a closed, virtual safe space that is accessible and convenient, but also can be anonymous.
Zvandiri’s Positive Action Challenge provides the opportunity to recognise that a system of support is only sustainable with the good health and wellbeing of those who provide it. This leads to the exciting prospect of scaling up Zvandiri’s programme to use technology to engage, recruit, train and support larger numbers of Peer Supporters. The Model will be initially implemented in Harare and subsequently adapted and implemented in Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces where Africaid is implementing the Zvandiri model in.
The collaboration with Zvandiri continues and expands The SHM Foundation’s scaling up accessible digital mental health support for people living with HIV. For more information on the progress of the Zvandiri-Khuluma collaboration, follow us on Twitter: @SHMFoundation.
The SHM Foundation's Malebo Ngobeni and Africaid's Executive Director Nicola Willis will both be speaking at the 2nd HIV & Adolescence Workshop in Cape Town this week. They will be speaking on a panel - Taking innovation and interventions to scale - what can we learn from programme implementation? You can find out more about the conference here https://www.virology-education.com/event/upcoming/2nd-adolescence-workshop/ and follow the panel discussion on The SHM Foundation and Africaid's twitter: @zvandiri.
Published on: 08-10-2018