YADT Demonstrates Power of Youth-Led HIV Prevention in Chitungwiza


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In Chitungwiza, a town located about 25 kilometers from the bustling city of Harare in Zimbabwe, a group of young individuals are taking charge in the fight against HIV. The Youth Aspire Development Trust (YADT) has launched a youth-led HIV prevention project, with funding from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). Spearheaded by HIV prevention champions who have been trained under the project, this initiative is making a significant impact in the local community.
Since its inception in 2016, the project has been conducting various awareness campaigns and HIV testing drives in collaboration with key stakeholders. These efforts have been amplified through the use of podcasts, which allow for the widespread dissemination of information and discussions on HIV prevention.
This publication had the opportunity to sit down with Director Wesley Nyabaya, Programs Manager Panashe Banda, and HIV prevention champion Marvellous Chidavaenzi to learn more about this inspiring project and the role of youth in fighting against HIV in Chitungwiza.
Director Wesley Nyabaya shared that the idea for the project came from recognizing the rising rates of HIV infections among young people in Chitungwiza.
“We saw that there was a gap in addressing HIV prevention among youth, and we wanted to do something about it,” he said.
Through their partnership with AHF, YADT was able to train 10 young people as HIV prevention champions. These champions were equipped with knowledge and skills on various aspects of HIV prevention, including condom use, safe sex practices, and stigma reduction.
Programs Manager Panashe Banda highlighted the importance of having youth at the forefront of this project.
“Young people are more likely to listen and relate to their peers when it comes to sensitive topics like HIV,” she explained. “By having youth as our champions, we can reach a wider audience and break down barriers to discussions about HIV.”
HIV prevention champion, Marvellous Chidavaenzi, shared her experience as a young person working on this project.
“At first, it was challenging for some of us to talk openly about HIV, but through the training and support from YADT and AHF, we have become confident in spreading awareness and promoting safe sex practices,” she said.
One of the key strategies used by YADT in their HIV prevention efforts is conducting community outreach campaigns. These campaigns involve going door-to-door to educate community members on HIV prevention and providing free HIV testing services. The outreach team also distributes condoms and informational materials on safe sex practices.
YADT officers distributing condoms during a community outreach exercise
Director Wesley Nyabaya emphasized the impact of these campaigns, saying, “We have seen a significant increase in the number of people getting tested for HIV and seeking information on prevention methods. This shows that our efforts are making a difference in the community.”
Apart from the community outreach campaigns, YADT has also been using podcasts as a means to reach a larger audience with their messages on HIV prevention. These podcasts feature discussions with key stakeholders, including healthcare professionals and community leaders, to provide a well-rounded understanding of HIV/AIDS and its prevention.
Programs Manager Panashe Banda explained, “Podcasts are an effective way to engage with young people who may not have access to traditional forms of media. Through this platform, we can provide accurate information and address any misconceptions or myths surrounding HIV.”
HIV prevention champion, Marvellous Chidavaenzi, added, “Podcasts have been a great way to continue the conversation and keep our messages relevant. We have received positive feedback from listeners who have been encouraged to get tested for HIV after listening to our podcasts.”
The success of the youth-led HIV prevention project in Chitungwiza has not gone unnoticed. Director Wesley Nyabaya shared that they have been approached by other organizations to replicate their model in other communities. He also expressed his gratitude to AHF for their continuous support and belief in the project.
As the interview came to an end, the news crew was inspired by the passion and dedication of these young individuals in fighting against HIV. Their efforts have not only increased awareness and knowledge about HIV prevention, but they have also helped to reduce the stigma surrounding the virus.
The youth-led HIV prevention project in Chitungwiza is a testament to the power of young people in creating positive change in their communities. Through their collaboration with key stakeholders, YADT has shown that effective HIV prevention requires a comprehensive approach that involves education, community engagement, and open discussions.
“As we continue to face the challenges of HIV/AIDS, let us remember the importance of involving youth in the fight against this virus. With their energy, innovation, and determination, they can play a significant role in ending the spread of HIV and creating a future where no one has to live with this disease,” the YADT Director added.