HIVSA has worked in the HIV space since its inception in March 2002. While our initial work focused on HIV prevention and education, the organisation shifted focus to supporting treatment initiation and adherence. In 2013, HIVSA began specifically focusing on interventions aimed at reducing HIV infections amongst Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) with the launch of its online magazine, Choma.
A magazine that focuses on love and relationships; sex and pregnancy; health; fashion and beauty and inspiration. With the added “Ask Choma” feature, girls and young women utilising the platform have access to accurate and factual information and have the opportunity to discuss their challenges with their online “Choma.” Through the 24/7 accessible platform, we reach over 30 000 AGYW a month.
In the ensuing years, it became evident that the HIV prevalence amongst AGYW was disproportionately highly and girls and young women were eight times more likely to get infected with HIV than their male counterparts. Despite the number of HIV prevention activities and referrals for Sexual and Reproductive Health services, it was clear that many AGYW were placing themselves in risky situations due to limited financial resources. This often resulted in AGYW being unable to negotiate safe sex practices or to get out of abusive and age-disparate relationships. Understanding this need, HIVSA began incorporating economic strengthening interventions in its basket of services available to AGYW. These included financial capability training, entrepreneurship, employability and supporting AGYW access to tertiary education. The obvious next step was to assist AGYW in finding employment that would immediately translate into them having access to their own income whilst gaining on-the-job training.
In 2020, HIVSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with YES4Youth with the aim of having its existing or graduated beneficiaries placed at HIVSAs implementation sites through sponsorships received from corporates. On the 1st July 2021, HIVSA placed its first cohort of 11 female youth in its finance, digital media, monitoring and evaluation and programme departments. We will be hosting an additional 11 youth from the 1st October 2021.
Through these placements, AGYW will gain an array of skills ranging from research, data capturing, administration, and group facilitation in the world of work that will position them well for their future career aspirations and reduce their dependency on others for financial support.
One of our youth, Mmakgotso Thejane, currently placed in the finance department shares her story
"My experience as a YES Youth at HIVSA has been very enjoyable and interesting because I get to learn new skills. The people I work with are willing to help in any way without hesitation and in that way, it is easier for me to find my way around my work. My supervisor has also been great, and I enjoy working with him. My message to unemployed youth in South Africa is to believe in their dreams; dream big”.