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Over $640,000 to support adolescents living with HIV

16 November 2021

Recognising the need for further support for adolescents living with HIV

Global health experts will lead a program to examine and measure how intervention can help adolescents living with HIV flourish within their communities by developing the character strengths embedded within the indigenous concept of 'Zvandiri' (Accept Me as I Am).

Dr Sarah Bernays, Senior Lecturer in Global Health, and Dr Webster Mavhu, CeSHHAR Zimbabwe Deputy Director, have been awarded a three-year grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. The grant has been awarded to implement the project  “The Zvandiri (As I am) character strength and its constructs among adolescents living with HIV in Zimbabwe”. This project will examine and measure how the Zvandiri programme can sustainably engage adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) to develop the character strengths embedded within the indigenous concept of ‘Zvandiri’ (accept me as I am) so that they can flourish and live well within their communities.

This project builds on a previous trial of the Zvandiri intervention led by the CeSHHAR team between 2016 and 2019, which demonstrated the success of Zvandiri.

"ALHIV receiving the Zvandiri intervention had a significant and clinically important reduction in HIV viral load after 2 years compared to ALHIV receiving standard care. The intervention, delivered at scale, offers a substantial opportunity to redress ALHIV’s poor outcomes. However, although we know that it works to replicate and potentially improve its effect, we need to understand why" - Dr Sarah Bernays.

The aim of this research project is to explore in-depth the Zvandiri character strength and its constructs to understand how they improve health outcomes among ALHIV in Zimbabwe. The research also aims to explore the utility of adding a home-based caregiver/household intervention delivered by community adolescent treatment supporters to the Zvandiri program. Together, this should further strengthen the effectiveness and replicability of the intervention to improve ALIHV’s physical health and wellbeing.

Having commenced on  October 2021, the project is a partnership between the University of Sydney, CeSHHAR, Africaid, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

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