The HIV-prevalence rate in South Africa is the highest in the world, and uMgungundlovu at 42,3% has the highest prevalence rate in the country. Programmes and research show clearly that the spread of HIV is closely linked with unemployment, levels of education, as well as numerous social ills like alcohol abuse, women abuse and so on. A lot has been achieved in South Africa since the introduction of Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) in South Africa: 2.4 million people have been put on ARVs and 222000 HIV+ pregnant women have accessed treatment during pregnancy, this means that millions of lives have been saved.
However, South Africa still has a long way to go. Every week almost 2400 young women are infected with HIV. The infection rate among girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen is four times higher than the infection rate of boys in the same age group - and many teenage girls drop out from school due to pregnancy, which in return increases the risk of HIV, unemployment and poverty.
The services and activities offered in this programme aim at creating positive behaviour change in youth, enabling them to take informed decisions in life and reducing the risk of HIV infection and teenage pregnancy. At the same time, people living with HIV are assisted to live a long and healthy life.
Under the schools programme LifeLine implements dialogues on HIV Prevention Education and Sexual Reproductive Health in High Schools Grade 8-10 in uMgungundlovu District. These dialogues are 12–15 sessions long and conducted in small groups of 20. The aim is to prevent HIV infection and teenage pregnancy of learners by providing them with correct knowledge and life skills enabling them to take informed decisions in life.
The schools dialogue covers the following topics:
In small groups of 20 High School learners are informed over a period of 3days on Child Protection Intervention issues, whereby the following topics are covered
Under the LifeLine section on HIV Services and Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) LifeLine has noticed that children receive very valuable information, knowledge and skills in schools, but it becomes difficult for them implement what they have learned, due to their parents not having the same information. For this reason in order to bridge the gap LifeLine is implementing two types of workshops for caregivers of teenager children.
The aim of Parenting Skills workshops is to support parents in raising their children and to help them in handling difficulties of parenthood. Parenting Skills workshops are conducted over three days and cover the following topics:
The Child Protection Intervention workshop is conducted over a period of three days to primary caregivers. Similar to the Child Protections workshops conducted in schools for learners, the one for caregivers covers the same topics, looking at it, however, from the angle of parents. By providing parents and children with the same information on rights and responsibilities of children as well as of parents, it increases the likelihood that both have a shared understanding and are able to understand, support and respect each other.
LifeLine runs a support group for adolescents living with HIV on Saturdays on a bi-weekly basis. Children are between the ages of 14 and 17 and are given an opportunity to share their experiences pertaining to living with HIV. This group started off as the first of its kind in Pietermaritzburg. It was started because LifeLine realised that many children were born to HIV-positive mothers during the time when ARVs were not yet available. Having been born with the virus, they are now teenagers who have to cope with their status.
The support group covers the following topics:
Due to a rising rate of teenage pregnancy in High Schools LifeLine saw the need to start a support group for teenage mothers, supporting them in their new role and advising them on their rights and responsibilities as parents. The group meets bi-weekly and covers the following topics:
LifeLine Pietermaritzburg has developed a first of its kind online pregnancy support group for teen mothers and fathers, as well as relatives taking care of teen parents. The groups are open and free to join and the homepage also offers information all around pregnancy and parenting. For quality insurance the information shared in the groups is being monitored and if necessary corrected on a regular basis. Questions can be asked and will be answered by professionals. The page is accessible at www.lifelinepregnancysupport.org.
LifeLine incorporates a non-medical site at the offices where clients can seek HIV related services. LifeLine has a broad range of volunteers and lay-counsellors who offer voluntary HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) on a daily basis. A professional nurse on site ensures that all procedures follow policy guidelines as set out by National Department of Health. Blood tests are done to determine the CD4-count and where necessary ELISA blood tests are performed to verify the HIV-status. LifeLine ensures confidentiality and proper counselling standards at all times.
We encourage clients to book appointments for their visits so as to ensure they are seen to promptly. Many clients prefer coming to LifeLine to going to the clinic, as we do not have waiting queues, we offer all services with counselling and results are received without delay.
Clients who need to be initiated on Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) or who need any other health-related treatment are provided with their files and referred to local clinics.
On request of companies and in relationship with the High Schools we are working with, LifeLine also provides HCT on-site and in the communities.
All clients and specifically children identified during implementation in schools, in the communities and at LifeLine office are followed-up on and assisted in ensuring they receive the necessary services and referrals. In this category children are assisted to access some of the following services:
Home-visits are conducted whenever needed and if necessary Social Auxiliary Workers or Social Workers conduct the home-visits. All home-visits, cases and referrals are supervised by a Social Worker and Manager to ensure quality.