Starting on August 1, we will have a new partner in Beira, Mozambique in the fight against HIV/AIDS among young people. The Elton John AIDS Foundation has chosen to support our efforts in the SAAJs (Serviços de Aconselhamento and Acompanhamento dos Jovens), counseling centers for young people who want to be informed, get tested, or get treatment for HIV/AIDS.
Within 2 1/2 years, with help of this new support, we aim to reach almost 233,000 teenagers and young adults — from ages 10 to 24 — with awareness raising and voluntary testing efforts. To achieve our goals we will count on the involvement of the young activists of Geração Saudável, whose volunteer work will be backed up by the efforts of 48 nurses and 25 teachers from four different schools, all trained on testing methods, treatment, and information about HIV.
The program’s goal is to increase the number of young people who get tested at the SAAJs through communication and participation operations, as well as to support HIV-positive people to help them keep on receiving treatment and understand how to avoid transmitting the virus to their partners or future children.
SAAJs in Beira
The Serviços de Aconselhamento e Acompanhamento dos Jovens (SAAJs) are an essential tool for fighting HIV/AIDS in Beira, the capital of the Sofala province, where the virus’s prevalence is 15%, peaking at 20% among adolescent girls and young women. Despite these alarming numbers, understanding of the virus had been very low in previous years. According to UNICEF data, only 30% of teenagers between 14 and 19 had full knowledge about the risks of HIV. This is why we chose to focus on awareness and started working in four SAAJs in Beira. The response among young people has been excellent: from 2013 to 2014, there was a jump in consulting received at the centers from 6,000 to 102,000.
Geração Saudavel: youth activism
These positive results would have been impossible without involving young people themselves, who chose to work in awareness raising and peer education to cut down on the fear and stigma of AIDS that is hard to avoid among adolescents.
This is why we recently supported the foundation and development of the Geração Saudavel Association. This group of young activists — some of whom are HIV positive — organizes and takes part in events where they meet peers. They are available to receive and meet with the young men and women who come to the SAAJs.