Lesotho: Strong and Courageous Because of Adolescent-Friendly Services


Paballo ‘Mota, 20, is a student living in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho. Two years ago, Paballo’s health began to deteriorate.

“I was feeling weak and dizzy and developed a skin rash,” says Paballo. “I started to skip school due to poor health. The over-the-counter medication never helped.”

Sick and discouraged, Paballo decided to go to the Adolescent Centre at Scott Hospital. At the Adolescent Centre, young people receive individualized care and connect with other young people. They are also encouraged to know their current HIV status.

“I last tested for HIV in 2015,” says Paballo, “so I agreed to test. The test showed I am HIV-positive. I was shocked and requested to have a confirmatory test, which revealed the same status: that I am positive.”

Paballo was counseled to enroll in on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and she chose to start ART that same day.

Paballo was terrified of disclosing to her two brothers and her mother for fear of rejection and shame. She called her sister first and disclosed her HIV status to her. Paballo’s sister accepted her immediately and promised to help her to inform their mother. That encouraged Paballo to disclose to her mother by herself.

“My mother accepted me,” says Paballo. She never shouted, and she encouraged me to adhere to my ART.”

Paballo’s first check-up was on the weekend. When she visited the adolescent center, she was happy to see other young people who are living with HIV and have formed a club.

“I like youth club because I met very strong young people who are living with HIV who have accepted themselves and they are confident to share their status with other youths,” says Paballo. “At the club we learn about acceptance, treatment adherence, and status disclosure to our loved-ones. We also learn about hygiene and nutrition.”

Paballo was initially prescribed a one-month supply of ART, with monthly refill appointments intended to ensure she was adhering properly to her medication. In January 2020, she was given three-months ART supply.

Due to COVID-19, club meetings have ceased, and the youth only go to the facility for their drug refills.

“Now we have WhatsApp group with health providers. When we have any health challenge, we share it in the group and the healthcare worker will provide a solution. We also share how to overcome stigma and ensure treatment adherence to achieve viral suppression,” she said.

Paballo’s HIV status never stopped her dreams for her future. She completed high school in 2018. Her goal is to sit for exams in English and Biology in 2021 so that she can apply to nursing college and fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.

Paballo thanks EGPAF, PEPFAR, and the Lesotho Ministry of Health for the adolescent-friendly services that she received at the Adolescent Centre. Today she feels strong and more courageous, capable of conquering any challenge to achieve her dream.

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Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202107150745.html

Author : E.G. Pediatric Aids Foundation

Publish date : 2021-07-15 12:38:15

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