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700 youths join HIV support groups

THE Million Memory Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) has revealed that the institution recorded an upsurge in the number of youth and adolescents living with HIV and Aids who join its support groups, a move expected to improve the wellbeing of more people living with the virus.

BY TALENT GUMPO

In an emailed response, MMPZ director Trevor Chirimambowa said 700 children and youth aged between 12 and 28 years had joined the support groups.

“The number of participants is marginally increasing with the newly initiated children and youths being introduced to the activities which include self-awareness, life and interpersonal skills building activities, experimental learning and treatment literacy sessions.

“Treatment literacy sessions help the participants deal with adherence issues — this is mainly to reinforce what they would have been told by the clinicians, self-awareness is done to deal with issues of low self-esteem and feelings of despair that come in as a result of being expected to die soon or people expecting less from you because you live with HIV,” he said.

Chirimambowa said they also hold experimental learning sessions where participants take part in team building and problem solving activities.

“We deal with a lot of issues in our support groups these include denial of accepting one’s HIV status, non-adherence to medicine, conflict with peers and relatives, suicidal tendencies, access to birth and death certificates (for late parents), we also do career guidance as well as sexual reproductive health concerns,” he said.

Chirimambowa said the institution was facing financial challenges.

“There are times when participants cannot afford to buy antibiotics (these are not given for free at the OI clinic), so sometimes we need to chip in and buy for them and in most cases we do not have such budgets.

“We also face challenges in getting medication for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — some youths acquire STI’s and cannot afford medication and referring them to other centres where they can possibly get medication for free is a risk in that youths are sensitive to who they open up to,” he said.

Chirimambowa said they also need props for games and activities used for teaching the youths and plumbing material for the toilet.

MMPZ is a private voluntary organisation formed to respond to the various challenges faced by children and young people living with HIV.

Source :

Newsday

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