The capacity of children, adolescents and young people living with HIV to survive and thrive is directly influenced by the world in which they live – their homes and communities. Zvandiri works with caregivers, schools, faith and religious leaders and community members to create more supportive environments which promote young people’s health and well-being. Zvandiri helps with disclosure support, HIV diagnosis and treatment adherence, TB prevention, mental health support and links to education and social welfare services.
Thabiso is 14 years old and is from Mangwe District in Zimbabwe. Her parents died when she was young and she has since lived with her maternal relatives. Thabiso has been on HIV medicines since the age of 8 and has been doing well. But at her recent clinic review, the nurse and counsellor became concerned about Thabiso. She was quiet and withdrawn and her viral load is now high. Her nurse asked the CATS to follow up on Thabiso at home. She shared that Thabiso’s aunt does not want Thabiso to know she is living with HIV.
At home, the CATS talked with Thabiso and established that she had many worries and confusion about was is happening to her, not understanding the reason for clinic visits, medicines and her parents’ death. She told her CATS she knew there is something terribly wrong and wanted to end her life. She had also stopped taking her medicine, but hasn’t told her aunt.
The CATS followed up with Thabiso’s caregiver, sharing her experience growing up without being told her HIV status. She counselled the aunt who agreed Thabiso should know but was worried how to do it. The nurse and CATS, together with the aunt, met with Thabiso and disclosed her HIV status to her. The CATS used adolescent-focused counselling tools to ensure Thabiso fully understood her HIV status and treatment, the importance of adherence to her medicines and the future she has ahead.
The CATS continued to support Thabiso and her aunt at home and through phone calls. Thabiso also joined the support group at her clinic. At her next clinic review, Thabiso’s viral load was undetectable. Thabiso said ‘’There were so many things I didn’t understand…I knew people were lying to me. I thought I had done something wrong, I gave up. Now I understand and even my aunt helps me with my medicines. My CATS has shown me I can look forward to my future. I want to be like her when I’m older’