Some key lessons learned thus far include:
Taking a holistic, family-centred approach is key to the issue of disclosure, and to fostering self-confidence among adolescents. We have seen that encouraging dialogue between these groups enhances open communication about sensitive issues, so that each is more willing to disclose important information to the other. We’ve also seen that self-esteem improves when adolescents are comfortable discussing goals, fears, and whatever else is on their mind with their parents.
Engaging key community stakeholders increases and encourages understanding of the project’s goals among the wider community, and helps us achieve them. Another unique aspect of the project is our Project Advice Committee, which is comprised of key stakeholders from the community, including representatives from the Ministry of Health and representatives from the Ministry of Youth, among others. This committee helps us track the progress of the ACT initiative, reviews the work that we are doing and provides advice and support for how we can best achieve our objectives. Having these community gatekeepers be involved, informed and actively engaged is a tremendous asset to the project.
Integrating services provided by seemingly disparate organisations can enhance outcomes for girls and women affected by HIV in ways that would otherwise not be possible. We hope that this model of innovative partnerships between HIV service providers and microfinance institutions will affect change that can benefit young women and girls across the globe.