Teenagers Plus Community Based Organization

Wednesday, Jul 24th 2024

Maisha Yangu Project - Total War Against AIDS

Maisha Yangu project is a pioneer youth led initiative for Teenagers born & Living with HIV (TLWHA) aimed at creating a platform for them to come together, share experiences and challenges of living with HIV as teenagers, identify gaps within the initiative and discuss way forward in support of the projects’ effort to educate HIV+ adolescents and teenagers on reproductive health, Family planning options and PMTCT for the pregnant. The organization seeks to train the teens into peer educators to hasten growth and replication of the initiative in Kenya and beyond, revolutionizing youth participation in the global fight of HIV through this innovative project that will serve as a community led and owned project for social and behavioral impact evaluation platforms and research resource centre.

According to the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey of 2007, an estimated 7.1% of Kenyans aged between 15 to 64 years are living with HIV. Further, the survey found that of the HIV affected households, 79.9% had at least one child under the age of 18 years. The report however is silent on any data on children below the age of 15. According to the projected population estimates report (Revised Population Projections for Kenya 2000-2020) by KBS, August 2006, Kasarani division; where Teenagers plus CBO is located and serving, has a population of 0.506m people with an estimated 6.18% of them living with HIV / AIDS.

According to the Constituency Aids Control Committee statistics, 30% of these are children below the age of 15. This estimates to about 9,300 school going children whose data is already captured through Comprehensive Care Centers where they access ARV / ART treatment or management by cotrimoxazole. As such policy interventions based on these estimates indicate therefore an urgent need for early intervention for rapid results.

Like their peers, children born and living with HIV face varied problems including sexuality and reproductive health challenges as they progress into teenagers and as such, this presents a double challenge for them due to lack of suitable forums, information and facilitations in which confidentiality is assured for them to express their feelings on such sensitive matters given their HIV status. This discourages disclosure to their sexual partners and if pregnant, it hinders them from the accessing available prevention options through PMTCT programs.

In line with WHO guidance on PMTCT this project seeks to create an integrated program on Counseling, Care and Support where HIV+ teenagers can access information on family planning services and options to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reproductive health, PrEP and PEP, PMTCT and also referrals to youth friendly health institutions for clinical follow-ups. Their families will be counseled to offer primary support to these teenagers to maximize adherence to treatment, which will PMTCT sustainability and scale up.

Apart from offering the above information and services, Maisha Yangu Project seeks to include nutritional support for the teenage mothers based on needs assessment, distribution of female condoms to enhance women & Girls sexual rights, thereby offering holistic support through an integrated program which will ensure continuity in client follow-up, supervision and create a community - led client-focused project, a focal point for youth friendly best practices.

The decision to base this pilot project in Kariobangi, Korogocho and Baba Dogo area is based on the fact that the implementers are residents of the area hence possess vast knowledge of grass root needs and unique dynamics of the people living here. The high poverty levels in the area add to the challenges that HIV poses to them on a daily basis. The chairperson has for a long time worked within the area in school based Behavior Change Programs, is well respected by the community and possesses exemplary skills for Community mobilization while logistical matters require the proximity to the project as Teenagers Plus has just received its first ever funding from the National Aids Control Council through GF TOWA round 4 project to the tune of $4200 and as such, relies heavily on the goodwill of the community and local volunteers.

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University of Nairobi