Outreach Programme for Adolescents Infected and Affected by HIV/AIDS (OPA) began January 1st, 2010. This project seeks to improve and increase linkages to prevention, care, and supportive services for those individuals affected by HIV/AIDS by addressing non-compliance to medication in disadvantaged HIV-positive adolescents.
The Bahamas AIDS Foundation works to encourage adherence to treatment by boosting self-esteem, providing emotional and financial support, supplying food and clothing, fostering confidence in school work, and teaching life skills.
The OPA targets HIV+ adolescents who are “at risk” in terms of their health (physically and psychologically) because they are not adhering to their medication and their siblings, who are considered to be also vulnerable. Unfortunately, many of these adolescents come from families that are disproportionately disadvantage in terms of their socio-economic status, as well. Children who come from resource-poor backgrounds are also at significant risk for developmental impairments, including neurocognitive developments and even their growth. Furthermore, when these adolescents do not adhere to their medication they fall ill, resulting in extended absences from school which negatively affects their educational achievement.
OPA provides direct support for 123 clients; 60 males and 63 females. Currently the programme addresses the need for:
- A safe-space for children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS;
- Empowerment and motivation through academic success and enhancing life-skills;
- Individual and family therapy;
- Clothing and food.
HIV-positive youth, especially those who are disadvantaged, often avoid taking their medicine for reasons related to issues of low self-esteem, lack of oversight, and personal embarrassment. Non-adherence can lead to frequent illness and eventually death for these young people. To address these causes a focus on encouraging adherence to treatment by boosting self-esteem, providing emotional and financial support, supplying food and clothing, fostering confidence in school work, and teaching life skills is necessary.
- Homework assistance, computer access, and study groups at an afterschool programme five (5) days a week for 84 total youth. An average 18-22 youth attend the afterschool programme on any given day.
- Visiting homes, hospitals and local schools to follow up on the 84 programme participant’s academic and psychosocial progress.
- Providing individual, family and group counseling in addition to peer support groups, addressing psychosocial concerns and medicine adherence, to roughly 140 total individuals (direct and indirect beneficiaries).
- Access to a trained Social Worker, Casework and a Clinical Psychologist.
- Supplying 84 HIV-positive youth and siblings with a hot meal five (5) days a week at the afterschool programme; sending excess food home to their families and donating additional surplus food to a local community food bank, which will indirectly benefit an additional 20 individuals.
- Training 84 youth, ages 8-23 years old, on job and life skills to effectively prepare them for adulthood.
- Monitoring the 58 HIV-positive youth to ensure proper adherence to treatment and accompanying them to medical visits.
- Food and clothing bank that benefits both direct and indirect beneficiaries.