Temba’s Journey: Overcoming Barriers to Quality HIV Care

Health outcomes of young people living with HIV often lag behind those of adults due to barriers to quality of care from both the service providers and the caregivers. Such was the story of Temba* (not his real name) a 10-year-old from Makonde district who had been receiving care and support from the Zvandiri programme since October 2021.

Zvandiri provides a range of services to children, adolescents and young people living with HIV aged 0 – 24 years to improve access to quality  HIV prevention, care and treatment services. The programme is implemented in Makonde district with technical and financial support through the ZimPAAC consortium led by Zim-TTECH.

Temba had his first viral load test results in October 2020 which were high. Unfortunately, he experienced delays in accessing enhanced adherence counselling sessions and soon it became clear that Temba’s caregiver was not ensuring he was taking his medicines properly. Temba was referred to visit the doctor as the caregiver reported he was suffering from headaches, joint pains and vomiting and suspected meningitis. He needed to have chest X-ray but  his caregivers could not afford the test and it was never done. Follow up visits were missed as Temba’s caregivers did not have money for transport and hospital bills.

After Temba joined Zvandiri the community adolescent treatment supporter  raised a red flag over Temba’s situation to the Zvandiri district team when poor viral load results were recorded again. As the district team provided support to Temba and his caregiver, improved adherence was reported but the family still had significant challenges with the costs of attending clinic. The district team reached out to Maruva for financial support to enable Temba to attend doctor’s appointments and recommended examinations He was referred to a Paediatrician who confirmed abnormalities of the liver and at that point he was diagnosed with active TB and began TB treatment. The paediatrician then ordered for resistance testing and through collaboration with ZIMTTECH he was recommended to switch ART regimen.

Temba had a viral load test in December 2022 and he was happy to have an undetectable viral load result. Temba is now physically fit and very happy. The support transformed Temba’s life and his caregivers appreciate the support and knowledge they have gained to support and monitor his adherence.

Makonde district viral load suppression rate in January 2023 was 93% for the supported cohort. Temba’s journey is one of the achievements of support and case management efforts towards quality of HIV care for young people. Continued Zvandiri support will help young people achieve health happiness and hope!due