Interventions with adolescents living with HIV are considered as last mile intervention due to significant scaling of Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) program and rapid reduction in the number of mother to child transmissions. However, in India, 145,000 children <15 years of age are estimated to be living with HIV. Continued efforts to improve quality of life of youth living with HIV are needed.
Adolescent HIV program at Prayas started in 2010 with an objective of addressing growing-up issues and support transition from adolescence to adulthood. Many children living with HIV are now entering adolescence or early adulthood. HIV does cast a shadow on events that are normal part of transitioning to adulthood for example being in a relationship, having sexual intimacy, getting married to someone etc. Many adolescents growing up with HIV experience significant stressors related to sexuality.
One of the core interventions is a residential workshop specially designed to suit the needs of adolescents living with HIV(ALHIV) . The workshops are entitled as ‘Growing up with HIV and Transitioning to Adolescents workshops (GUWHATTA)’. The first such workshop was conducted in 2010. Since then such workshops have been conducted in many places in Maharashtra and have reached to ALHIV living in the institutions as well as with families. For more details about the workshops please see the training module (available in Marathi and English).
An organic fall out of the workshops was a formation of peer support group of youth living with HIV. The group is named as So What!’. The motto of the group is, “So what, if we are HIV infected! We will live life to the fullest and help our peers achieve the same.”
As part of improving the quality of life of ALHIV, some other initiatives include, organizing a ‘Plus One’ workshop, where ALHIVs got along with them one more member (friend, brother, sister, cousin) who knew about their status. The workshop was designed to facilitate the communication between the ALHIV and their peers to strengthen their relationship and support system; capacity building of ALHIVs to work as facilitators in the workshops; participatory development of IEC material; organizing annual meet of ALHIV to increase their interaction; formation of virtual community where ALHIV can interact with each other and are regularly sensitized on issues of their concerns etc.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the residential workshop was converted into an online one. Since the beginning of pandemic, many adolescents have participated in the online workshops. Delivering highly interactive content is challenging and one needs to adopt different strategies to address these challenges. There are some advantages too. It can be less resource intensive and can have more reach in the given resources.
Start date - 2010
End date - Ongoing
Funding support - Keep A Child Alive (KCA)