Support for Strengthening and Expanding Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Care Project

Photo by Pathfinder South Africa

A young man celebrates the launch of The Youth Friendly Wellness Center, where he and his friends can access a number of critical services, including HIV counseling and testing. (SOUTH AFRICA)

Photo by Pathfinder South Africa

A group of peer educators are trained to deliver youth-friendly services, free of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.

With funding from the Centers for Disease Control, Pathfinder is reducing mother-to-child-transmission of HIV and HIV infection rates among youth aged 15-24 in eight facilities in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and Eastern Cape provinces. Project goals include promoting the adoption of safer sex practices and increasing access to quality integrated, youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services that are delivered in a social environment free of stigma and discrimination. To better reach youth, the project trains peer educators to provide sexual and reproductive health information and individual and group support to youth who utilize the health care services. Trained peer educators also conduct home visits when required.

So far, 244 peer educators have received training and are responsible for mobilizing youth in communities, running health promotion campaigns, and promoting the availability of services in community settings where young people congregate, including schools. The project has also trained providers in the provision of youth friendly services.

Since the beginning of the project, more than 7,000 youth have been provided with testing and counseling services for HIV, of whom 635 tested positive. More than 400 young clients are currently on antiretroviral therapy in project-supported facilities and more are being enrolled into the program.

The project has built momentum over the past two years by establishing strong working relationships with the provincial departments of health, stakeholders in the province, and communities around the different facilities, as well as through the establishment of satellite offices. In the coming year, Pathfinder will add one new project site in the Eastern Cape and will also begin project implementation in five facilities in the North West Province.

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