Anova releases sex education manual for HIV positive pre-teens

Published: August 22, 2011

The Anova Health Institute has released its long-awaited landmark manual, titled: Sexual and Reproductive Health for young HIV Positive Adolescents: The club concept in support groups. The manual is specifically designed to help guide health care workers in educating HIV-positive young people on sex andsexuality in relation to their HIV-status.
HIV treatment and provision in South Africa has improved in leaps and bounds over the last decade and as a result the face of HIV in South Africa has changed. HIV-positive people now live long and healthy lives and children born HIV-positive can live a near normal lifespan.
This new generation, known as the born-positive generation, presents unprecedented challenges to individuals and organisations involved in supporting and caring for them. The most urgent of these challenges is how to address the developmental needs of HIV-positive teens, specifically the crucial developmental milestone of puberty.
Today the new born-positive generation is having to negotiate the normal sexual desires and developments that all teens encounter but their identity as HIV-positive individuals makes this processeven more complex than usual. 
HIV-positive children face a barrage of additional demands such as coping with concerns about treatment regimens, doctor’s appointments, reduced life expectancy, stigma and the possibility of infecting others.
And while young HIV-positive teens struggle to make head or tail of their situation, their care-givers often find themselves in a similar situation.
In the context of a society in which HIV-stigma is prevalent and there are cultural and social taboos around talking about sex, health care workers and caregivers alike can find it difficult to deal with educating born-positive teens about sex and sexuality.
In addition to this there has been a lack of resources for healthcare workers wanting to assist HIV positive children in managing the transition from childhood to teens. Anova’s manual aims to address this gap by supporting health care workers, and through them, HIV-positive teens as well as their parents and caregivers who may be struggling to address sexual and reproductive health issues with their children.
The guide is aimed at very young adolescents (VYA) between the ages of 10 and 14 because this is considered to be a window of opportunity. If HIV-positive children are targeted at this age, health care workers, caregivers and counsellors can equip them with the knowledge needed to make sound choices around their own sexual health and the sexual health of others before they start engaging in sex.
The manual is divided into several group sessions, which comprehensively address the issues in an age-appropriate manner by using simple representational illustrations and activities that are designed to provoke discussion, evoke amusement and dispel embarrassment.
Session topics include the basics of HIV, body changes, sex, pregnancy, STI’s, contraception, adherence and disclosure using simple representational illustrations and activities that are designed to provoke discussion, evoke amusement and dispel embarrassment.
Gender issues, stigma, abuse, children’s rights, self-awareness and building resilience also feature as specific activities.
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