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Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS

by mothers2mothers
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Educating & Supporting Adolescents on HIV/AIDS
Lumgile
Lumgile

mothers2mothers (m2m) turned 15 earlier this month (we can't believe it either!). As we move into our "adolescence" as an organisation, it's only fitting that we have evolved to fight the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic among adolescents. It's our duty to ensure HIV-exposed children thrive and grow into healthy, HIV-free adolescents and young adults with the skills and knowledge necessary to protect the next generation from HIV. Along with celebrating our fifteenth birthday, we're also celebrating you, our cherished supporters!

We are delighted to report that we reached 176,325 adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) with our services last year. That number will greatly increase this year as we continue to expand our adolescent program. In order to combat the acute rise in the rate of HIV infection among AGYW (7,000 new infections per week globally according to the 2015 UNAIDS Gap Report), m2m's adolescent program provides age-appropriate, sensitive, and empathetic support to adolescents in safe and confidential environments.

Last time we updated you, we shared Amanda's story. We hope you remember Amanda as the courageous young woman that she is. This time, we'd like to introduce you to another m2m adolescent Peer Mentor in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Lumgile is 24 years old and a mother of two.

"I think it's important for young women to have a peer to talk to because they are scared to talk to their mothers. They are freer to talk to somebody their own age.

For the girls who are HIV positive, I teach them that they should have hope that there are more years and I give them support. And for those who are HIV negative, I teach them the importance to stay negative because we want to keep the new generation AIDS free.

I had two boys when I was in school. I was so scared, confused. I thought my life is going to be a mess. Some of my clients are like me, and I tell them I have children, and you can carry on with your life. We need to achieve those dreams. If you have a baby, your life isn't over."

We hope that Lumgile's reflections on her work with m2m have touched you in some way. Thank you again for your support!

Warmly,

Gwendolyn Burke

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Amanda
Amanda

“If you are a girl from a poor background, you see your peers having some things, and you want them. Then this older guy approaches you and provides you with everything you always wanted. He gives you something and you have to give him something back. There’s no other way than sex,” says Amanda.

Amanda, age 22 and mother of two, is a Peer Mentor for mothers2mothers' (m2m) adolescent-focused initiative in KwaZulu-Natal, the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. This initiative draws from the DREAMS initiative, launched by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in Eastern and Southern Africa to ensure that adolescent girls and young women are Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS Free, Mentored, and Safe.

Rates of HIV infection among adolescent girls and young women, aged 15-24, continue to increase, with up to 7,000 new infections a week globally, according to the 2015 UNAIDS Gap Report. Just as worrisome, the Human Services Resource Council (2012) reported that adolescent girls and young women in South Africa continue to make up 40% of the total pregnant population. These high rates of HIV infection and pregnancy are driven by gender inequalities, gender-based violence, poverty, age-disparate relationships, and limited access to quality adolescent and youth friendly services.

To address these challenges, m2m has hired and trained 25 Peer Mentors between the ages of 20 and 24, including Amanda, to promote HIV counseling and testing, as well as critically-needed safer sex education, among their peers in KwaZulu-Natal. The goal is to reduce HIV infections and HIV-related mortality and morbidity among young women.

Thanks to your generous donation, Peer Mentors like Amanda are positively impacting the lives of adolescent girls and young women in their communities. "I like to be a Peer Mentor to help other young women to have someone to talk to who is their age. They tell us it’s very good to talk to someone who is your age, who understands you, who won’t judge you like your mother. I want to be the shoulders who they can cry on and the person they can talk to. I talk to them about the importance of preventing, testing [for HIV], and using a condom wherever they are."

As part of the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) held in Durban this past July, m2m was invited to highlight its adolescent-focused initiative. m2m hosted a lively intergenerational panel with Johnson & Johnson in honor of their decade of partnership. The panel, Lives Changed on the Way to Zero: A candid conversation with Zolani, teens, and their HIV-positive mothers, was hosted by Zolani Mahola, lead singer of South Africa’s chart-topping pop group Freshlyground. m2m invited Amanda and two other Peer Mentors, as well as three mother-adolescent pairs, to talk about the unique challenges adolescents face navigating sexuality, stigma, and peer pressure to protect themselves from infection. The session was the first of its kind to feature HIV-positive mothers with their HIV-free adolescent children.

Adolescent Panel at AIDS 2016
Adolescent Panel at AIDS 2016
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Organization Information

mothers2mothers

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @m2mtweets
Project Leader:

Los Angeles, CA United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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