HIVSA and Community Partners work to strengthen OVCY programmes

HIVSA supported by PEPFAR through USAID works to capacitate CBOs with a focus on building institutional capacity and sustainability and strengthening OVCY programmes. Through a participatory programme HIVSA works with CBO partners to improve the lives of OVCY and their families by ensuring access to quality services and support. Priority interventions include  Adolescent programmes, Health Screening, Child Protection and Psychosocial Support.

Much emphasis is being placed on HIV prevention, care and support targeted at children and adolescents with the aim of ensuring that children requiring these services access the continuum of care as soon as possible. In addition, given that the HIV prevalence amongst females between the ages of 15- 49 (23.2%) is significantly higher than in their male counterparts (14.5%), empowering girls and young women to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health is a priority within this programme.HIVSA further aims to used combination prevention strategies in an attempt to reduce HIV infection amongst this highly vulnerable population group.  

HIVSA hosted a Learning and Sharing Event in April 2015 themed "Strengthening the Community Response Through OVCY Programmes" in Kliptown,
Soweto. This theme included "Children and Health: The Community's Response in the Continuum of Care" and "Adolescents and HIV: Exploring Combination Approaches."  Project managers from 50 CBOs were invited to participate in the event. Guest speakers included Prof. Ashraf Coovadia from the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, Ms. Rani Deshpande from Save the Children US, Ms Happy Manyane and Ms Thando Mjandu from Future Families SA and Ms Mokgadi Mokgothu from the Gauteng Department of Social Development.

 While the individual sessions had different areas of focus, the emphasis in both sessions was on the role the community can play in promoting health, HIV prevention and economic strengthening activities amongst children and adolescents. Prof. Coovadia highlighted the need for communities to play an active role in "the chain of survival for HIV" stressing the importance of prevention, early intervention, early referral and the timely referral for care and support. Ms Deshpande presented the need for combining HIV prevention with economic strengthening activities to curb risky behaviours uch as transactional sex amongst adolescent girls and young women.  Ms Mokgothu confirmed this call for a vigilant community response by citing the relevant legislation such as the National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and TB 2012- 2016 and the National Action Plan for Orphans and Other Children and Youth made Vulnerable by HIV and AIDS 2012- 2016

Participants acknowledged that improvements are needed in these areas and see the need for more holistic approaches when dealing with children and adolescents to improve inclusion and participation when in working to reduce the HIV prevalence amongst these vulnerable groups.

HIVSA will in the next few months, roll out training in basic health screening to 10 CBOs with the aim of screening at least 5000 OVC. In
addition, the organisation will be implementing an adolescent programme at 12 CBOs that will aim to capacitate CBOs through training and mentorship using combination approaches on HIV prevention, economic strengthening, parenting skills and the provision of therapeutic interventions for both adolescents and their caregivers infected and or affected by HIV. HIVSA further aims to host a Learning and Sharing Event annually to ensure the dissemination of information on current trends and innovation in the space of community development and support to OVCY.