AIDS is still the leading cause of death among adolescents and young people living with HIV in Africa. There is a high need to improve treatment outcomes and quality of life for adolescents and young people living with HIV to enable them to live healthy and productive lives and that they are able to practice self-care, and fulfil their HIV and sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) needs, in a supportive and respectful environment.
Self-care for SRH is particularly powerful for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) aged 15-24 years old and young key populations who are often prevented from accessing services and information in clinical settings due to poverty; gender-based violence; the age of consent laws; social, cultural, and religious barriers, and related stigma and criminalisation.
Y+ Global and YouthWise are launching a self-care campaign from 26 June to 24 July to promote key messages around self-care, treatment adherence, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and rights among adolescents and young people living with HIV. 24 June mark the start of Self-Care Month. During this month-long campaign, people worldwide celebrate self-care and raise awareness around how mindfulness and taking care of your mental health can make a difference in everyone's lives.
YouthWISE is a three-year project supported by Aidsfonds and is being implemented by Y+ Global in collaboration with the Coalition of Women Living with HIV (COWLHA), the National Association of Young people living with HIV (Y+ Malawi), the national network of young people living with HIV in Kenya (Y+ Kenya) and the Ambassadors for Youth and Adolescents Reproductive Health Programme (AYARHEP) in Kenya. YouthWise aims to amplify the voices of young people living with HIV in Kenya and Malawi to enable them to practice self-care and fulfil their HIV and SRHR needs.
The month-long campaign involves disseminating posters and videos with key messages to foster online conversations around awareness of practising self-care and putting your mental health and well-being first. The campaign will primarily take place on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. A webinar will be organised in late July with partners to share the campaign's outcome, including guest speakers discussing self-care and the launch of a resource on self-care that young people can use and follow.
Recently, The African Alliance, with funding support from Aidsfonds, developed a set of policy analyses covering Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia to highlight the importance of self-care in improving the SRHR needs of adolescents and young people and achieving universal health coverage.
These resources, and the basis for the self-care campaign, call attention to integrating self-care measures in broader health - as they cannot be seen in isolation from strengthening health systems and removing barriers to health services. To achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the human rights dimension of sexual and reproductive health and rights and health services must be prioritised in the UHC agenda. This will ensure appropriate service delivery and the promotion and protection of human rights, which go hand in hand. Many of the key messages and recommendations from the resources will feed into the campaign, which also aims to build the leadership and advocacy capacity of AYPLHIV to build and launch a successful campaign. #YouthWise4SelfCare