The prevalence of HIV among adolescents and young people is an issue of great concern given that many African countries including Ghana have youthful populations (UNAIDS, 2013), Ghana). According to the Ghana AIDS Commission (HSS 20I9), new HIV infections among the youth (15-25) accounted for 28% and 15% for (0-14).
Adolescents living with HIV globally experience multiple challenges associated with their condition and various social, environmental, economic, and cultural factors. To mitigate these challenges, there is the need to understand the circumstances and needs of adolescents living with HIV in designing adolescent-friendly interventions for successful outcomes. In 2019, The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) selected HFFG as an implementing partner for the UNFPA Out of School (OOS) SRHR Project in the Northern, Ashanti, and the Greater Accra Regions of Ghana.
The three-year Sexual and Reproductive Health Right (SRHR) project has its key beneficiaries as Young People Living with HIV (YPLHIV), as well as Young People in Detention (YPiDs).
Project Goal and objectives
The intervention seeks to empower and equip adolescents and young people with quality and adequate information on their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) to enable them to make healthy choices.
Additionally, the project seeks to provide linkages for additional services with health (especially at the ART Units) and the social justice system (if they are abused or denied basic human rights because of their status).
Key activities and achievements.
The project kicked off with an engagement with key stakeholders for their buy-in and support. The meetings were held with Regional Health Directors and Regional HIV Focal Persons, as well as the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU), Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Social Welfare, Regional Public Health Nurse and the Metro Public Health Nurse. The support of these heads was solicited in making the implementation a success.
In 2020, a total of 415 young people (20-24) females were mobilized and empowered with quality and adequate information on SRHR to enable them to make healthy choices about their well-being.
Furthermore, 40 YPLHIV comprising of 28 females and 12 males were trained in four skill areas, whilst some YPiDs benefitted from training as peer facilitators. In addition, about 20 Young Persons in detention (YPiD) were trained as peer facilitators and 20 YPLHIVs were also empowered with leadership skills through participation in the National SDG’s Youth summit.
In 2021, a total of 216 beneficiaries received comprehensive SRHR education under the project, whilst 40 beneficiaries received training in bakery and wig-making.
This training has economically and psychologically empowered the beneficiaries to live a meaningful life in society.
The UNFPA Out of School (OOS) project has been vital in the growth of beneficiaries, especially in giving them the confidence to make informed decisions about their health and sexual practices.
Munira Osman 21, is a beneficiary from the northern region of Ghana. As a young person living with HIV, she notes that this project has given her the confidence to accept her condition and take the necessary steps to safeguard her health and also protect others.
Through experience sharing with other YLPHIV on the project, I have committed to adhere to my HIV medication and also make healthy choices that will not ruin my future. The project has also connected me to some health professionals who assist me with counselling services. I want to become a nurse someday so that I can also help young people living with HIV who visit my hospital for healthcareMunira, Beneficiary.
Like Munira, Hakim Mohammed another beneficiary says the project has empowered him to know that HIV can’t stop him from reaching his full potential.
I have learned many things about teenage pregnancies and how to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Additionally, I have basic skills in bakery, so with the knowledge gained, I believe I can achieve my goals.Hakim Mohammed, Beneficiary