Combination prevention for young women
The National and Provincial Strategic Plans 2012-2016 on HIV, TB and STI prevention respectively categorise young people between 15-24 years as the most high risk group that requires concerted effort and efficient programming in the reduction of new HIV infections by at least 50% by end 2016. Furthermore, the South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence and Behaviour Survey, 2012 conducted by the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) reported that at least 60% of new HIV infections are found within the 15-24 age cohort. The report also highlights that there has been a huge decline in condom use, low levels of education and awareness programmes on HIV prevention. It is based on these findings and the daily reports on public sources, interactions with young people that the Eastern Cape AIDS Council (ECAC) resolved to have the combination prevention programme on young women as one of the key priority areas in HIV response. The programme seeks to address issues of high teenage pregnancy among learners as well as to look in depth on causal factors.
The project will target young people within the higher learning institutions and youth focused community groupings with the intention to raise empowerment on relevant information which is to be a tool to enhance their decision making abilities. Also, it will facilitate access to health care services and promote user friendly facilities for young people. These should lead to the reduction of new HIV cases and STIs. New HIV infection reduction among young people will be achieved through focused programmes targeting young women.
The Project seeks to have one integrated and standardised prevention programme for young women in identified wards which will put the target group at the centre of providing their own solution through the implementation of the Community Based Model which mainly utilises the social lab as a means of dissecting the community needs and challenges with its own people.
The Project will strengthen and help the ECAC and ECSECC fulfil its mandate of coordination, resource mobilisation and advocacy. The advocacy will focus on one of the key contributors to HIV exposure of young women which is the high inequality on the socio-economic aspects. Young women are highly vulnerable to HIV due to poverty. Some girls drop out of school and are subjected to forced marriages with older men. Therefore one of the important projects built within the young women’s programme is "keeping girls in school programme” which is based on evidence showing that those young girls who continue with higher education develop decision making skills that impact on their sexuality choices.
The main milestones for the 2016/17 financial year include:
- Co-ordination of provincial stakeholders for programme design and implementation
- Launch of the provincial combination prevention programme on young women championed by the political leadership
- Workshops/ seminars to share information and update stakeholders on latest developments regarding project plans
- Young people’s dialogue on the final HIV policy in schools
- Project close out report
Project manager: Ms Nophiwe Ludidi