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Teachers Tackle HIV in School-going Adolescent Girls

MAKONI, 28 June 2016 (SAfAIDS) - Mazuru Passwell is one of the first 160 of 800 teachers to be trained in Zimbabwe, by SAfAIDS, under the DREAMS Initiative, to reduce new HIV infections in adolescent girls by 40% in two years. Teachers are being capacitated to deliver comprehensive HIV and GBV prevention in 30-minute Guidance and Counselling lessons.

 

The trained teachers are expected to reach approximately 60,000 in-school adolescent girls aged 15-19 with HIV and GBV prevention information, as well as linking HIV positive students to HIV treatment and support services.  

 

Takunda Nyika (17), (not her real name) tested HIV positive in 2010, but, like more than 4 million learners in Zimbabwe, lacked school-based HIV support structures and made every effort not to disclose her HIV status for fear of being stigmatized. This same fear barred her from seeking health services. Despite her efforts to conceal her HIV status she still faced all forms of stigma and discrimination both at home and school. Then her teacher, Mazuru Passwell, took Takunda’s class through a session to discuss the basics of HIV and AIDS, followed by subsequent lessons addressing other aspects of HIV including stigma and discrimination and the benefits of disclosing one’s HIV status.

 

Takunda and her classmates were given an assignment to identify benefits of disclosing one’s HIV status to family, friends, teachers and others. The discussion held during that lesson was a turning point for Takunda; she made the decision to share the burden of her HIV status with her teacher.

 

Takunda is now on life-saving treatment after Mazuru Passwell linked her to the local clinic; the teachers is now playing a critical role in ensuring that learners like Takunda, adhere to their HIV treatment.

 

These very early programme results show the great promise of the DREAMS initiative in Zimbabwe.

 

 

“I was happy that soon after I disclosed my status, another student came and disclosed her HIV status as well and together we are now always happy” Takunda Nyika, St Stephens High School, Nyazura, Makoni District, Zimbabwe

 

 

 

 

 

 

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