#AIDSDAY2021: Raising the voice of adolescents, youths to "end inequalities, AIDS, and pandemics"
On the international AIDS Day today, experts at the Chronic Disease Clinic of Ifakara (CDCI), come together to highlight progress made towards ending HIV/AIDS and also remind themselves of the challenges and the fight ahead.
The CDCI in collaboration with the local government, the National Aids Control Programme, the St. Francis Referral Hospital (SFRH) and the Ifakara Health Institute (Ifakara) in line with this year’s global theme coined by the UNAIDS: “End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics” decided to be the voice of adolescents (aged 10-19) and youths (aged 15-24) living with HIV attending primary and secondary boarding schools in Ifakara to ensure equitable access to care.
As a curtain-raiser ahead of the World AIDS Day today, yesterday the CDCI team organized special workshop for primary, secondary and other guardians supervising the adolescents and youths in Ifakara’s boarding schools on how best they could support these groups. The one-day workshop, held at the SFRH conference room, was officially opened by Ifakara Town AIDS Coordinator, Dr. Judith Mheni.
“This year, we want to better these children’s learning experience and improve their adherence and mental health through educating select teachers from their schools on how to care for and support children living with HIV attending their institutions,” says Dr. Robert Ndege, Head of the CDCI. “We intend to make them understand the challenges of living with HIV and ensure they are empathetic enough to lend an ear when needed, and be present and ready to offer support whenever necessary.”
According to Dr. Ndege, experiences from their counseling room tell them that “these children face a great deal of difficulties in taking their medication as well as making sure they attend their scheduled visits to the CDCI. They are overwhelmed with the idea of other children knowing their status, they do not have a good enough support system to ensure they are taking their medication well, a person/friend that they can have an earnest conversation with and truthfully open up to them on how they feel and the challenges they face.”
“All these difficulties place them at a higher risk of mental disorders (depression, anxiety), they might end up in risky behaviors such as alcoholism, drug abuse and unsafe sex practices, and above all – poor school performance because they spend most of their years learning and perfecting the skill of concealment of their status instead of focusing on their studies as they should,” (Dr. Ndege).
More about #AIDSDay2021
“End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics” is the official theme for this year’s World AIDS Day - highlighting on the urgent need to end the inequalities that drive AIDS and other pandemics globally. The UNAIDS says without bold action against inequalities, the world risks missing the targets to end AIDS by 2030, as well as a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and a spiralling social and economic crisis. Learn more.
About the CDCI
Established in 2005 as a joint initiative between St. Francis Referral Hospital (SFRH), the Kilombero and Ulanga Antiretroviral Cohort (KIULARCO) and Swiss TPH, the Chronic Diseases Clinic of Ifakara (CDCI) is the first rural HIV treatment center in Tanzania. It’s integrated in the SFRH in Ifakara. More about the CDCI.