We provide health care to a remarkable group of young people at Groote Schuur Hospital. The Kidzpositive Family Fund, thanks to funding from the French Treatment Action organisation called Sidaction, has been developing services for adolescents with HIV and AIDS since 2005. We now have 56 young people who are aged between 11 and 18 years attending our ‘Hope Survivors’ and ‘Nyemezela’ clinic.
These youngsters were all born before there was any programme for the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV infection and many have been on anti—viral therapy since 2002. Survivors indeed…
As pioneers often do, we have been feeling our way in the process of developing best practice in the care of our patients who are now growing into adulthood, often after many years of anti-retroviral therapy. Our fledgling adolescent service is now offered on the fourth Thursday of every month. On this day we focus on providing medical care, counseling, group sessions and social time to the youth. Much brainstorming has gone into this process and our adolescents have been able to voice their desires, indicate their needs
and share their ideas for a safe space to visit, to interact with one another and receive treatment.
Young people hang out in their own space, while awaiting their turn with the doctor. They watch a movie, participate in social activities and crafts, shoot some pool, catch up with their friends, enjoy lunch and generally relax in the company of accepting peers.
Counselling sessions are arranged according to age, gender and individual preferences. The older group regularly work through topics found on cue cards in the Auntie Stella pack [link to Auntie Stella article], which provide vital information about sex, life and relationships in a non-threatening and communicative environment.
The clinic is seen as work in progress and we hope that with time, effort and interaction with other clinics and organisations, we will develop a model that meets the needs of our youth. Positive feedback continues to roll in, with the only ongoing complaint from the adolescent group being… ‘not enough food’ — a sure sign of their healthy appetites and continuing growth into adulthood.