Raising Girls’ Awareness of Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV - Benguela, Huila, Cunene
The Project “Raising Girls’ Awareness of HIV Prevention” provides a forum for thousands of girls and young women to discuss openly questions related to HIV prevention, and to sexual health in general. The idea is to empower girls to take control of their lives by making decisions based on knowledge and personal choice.
The project, which began in June 2017, operates in the provincial capitals of Benguela, Huila and Kunene. With a target of 22,500 girls, 7,500 of whom to be mobilized for voluntary counselling and testing for HIV, the project coordinates the activities of 75 activists, 75 health professionals and 76 teachers. The activists are all young women, trained by the project about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), disease prevention and sexual and reproductive health. They collaborate with participating schools and teachers to organize girls’ clubs, each with around 25 members, which meet weekly. Club sessions are carefully prepared and treat a wide range of topics, with the messages being reinforced through song, theatre, games, dance or poetry. By the end of 2017, 22,572 girls were attending these weekly meetings. Voluntary HIV counselling and testing, plus the promotion of prevention of STDs and of unwanted pregnancies, began in the latter part of 2017, on completion of refresher training of the 77 male and female nurses involved in the project. A lack of test kits resulted in a lower than planned number of girls being tested, but upon receiving materials in December 2017, the first 456 VCT sessions were held
Key elements that make the project effective include the club set up, whereby the girls feel comfortable about hearing and discussing often taboo subjects, together with the coordination of schools, health centers and activists, all of whom have been equipped with the necessary tools and information to tackle HIV prevention. With the materials and these relatively simple methods developed and already making an impact, similar programme could be rolled out across all schools in the country.
- 22,228 Girls attending weekly meetings
- 456 Young women counselled and tested for HIV
- 75 Activists trained
- 75 Health professionals trained
- 76 Teachers trained