DREAMS MENTORS ADOLESCENTS ON HIVAIDS

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DREAMS MENTORS ADOLESCENTS ON HIVAIDS
DREAMS MENTORS ADOLESCENTS ON HIVAIDS

Africa-Press – Botswana. Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS), a programme under the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA) is working towards an AIDS free future for girls and women.

Speaking in an interview at the recent Business Botswana Northern Trade Fair in Francistown, DREAMS representative, Ms Kgalalelo Rabonyana said DREAMS existed to protect, nurture and mould youngsters and women in communities.

She said adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) faced an increased vulnerability for HIV acquisition when compared to their male counterparts.

Ms Rabonyana added that DREAMS was committed to addressing the largest global HIV prevention and treatment gaps among adolescent girls and young women, children, and key populations.

She highlighted that DREAMS provided mentorship and educational support, economic empowerment opportunities and protective services to allow adolescent girls and young women to grow in a safer environment.

She said DREAMS focused on reducing HIV incidence among AGYW in all their diversity, through interventions.

Ms Rabonyana said DREAMS’ core intervention is to address key factors that make adolescent girls and young women particularly vulnerable to HIV.

She added that DREAMS focused on vulnerable AGYW (10-24 years) in communities as they were at an increased risk of acquiring HIV due to various demographic, geographic, behavioural and structural reasons.

She also noted that DREAMS offered child protection services, HIV testing services, adolescents sexual and reproductive health, youth-friendly services and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) through the engagement of clinical service providers that were trained in specific fields.

“DREAMS aims to also engage community service providers such as the Botswana Christian AIDS Intervention Programme (BOCAIP) and Stepping Stones International that offer counseling services,” added Ms Rabonyana.

Ms Rabonyana said DREAMS teams often engaged in other activities such as working with government on policy changes, changing health systems to be less stigmatising for AGYW and seeking services to create a supportive environment, amongst others. She noted that to ensure screenings were administered appropriately, all individuals who provided eligibility screening must be trained in building rapport, how to ask questions about experiences of violence in a manner that did not trigger emotions of victims.

She said they aimed to change the environment in which AGYW lived to support their ability to become Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS Free, Mentored, Safe young women.

DREAMS currently has ambassadors in nine districts and schools across the country who are employed to create a safe space for the youth to air out their emotions in a safe and confidential manner.

“I implore the youth to become part of DREAMS community so as to become the key pioneers in building an AIDS free generation”, concluded Ms Rabonyana.

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