In 2010 a formal partnership between Sunburst Projects and FACES (Family AIDS Care and Education Services), a program of the AIDS Research Institute at the University of California San Francisco UCSF), the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMI), was formed. The main FACES clinic is located in Kisumu, Kenya a small city in the Nyanza District of Kenya, where HIV rates still hover around 15%.
Video: Sunburst Projects In Kenya
With a focus on responding to the unmet social psychological needs of children and teens the program trains HIV positive youth how to run peer support groups, recreational activities, and provide HIV/AIDS prevention and education to school age youth. The program also creates jobs for youth, and gives teen mothers living with HIV/AIDS income generating opportunities.
As the pediatric HIV population ages out, the number of Kenyan teenagers on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ARVs) will increase dramatically. In addition to medical treatment, these teens need specialized care and support to help them overcome the hurdles of puberty and adolescence. As teenagers are at a critical time in their lives, they need to be equipped with appropriate skills to help them in their transition to adulthood. In particular, teenagers need education on how to live positively with HIV and understand that there is life beyond an HIV diagnosis. Our adolescents are given education about the disease, medication adherence, and increased attention is given to psychosocial support, particularly with helping teens to deal with stigma and misinformation related to HIV in their families, communities and schools.
Although the challenge of addressing the needs of a rapidly growing HIV-positive adolescent population is daunting, the Sunburst/FACES Kenya youth programs have risen to the challenge and already spearheaded a number of medical and psychosocial interventions for including an innovative teen support program, and a HIV/AIDS educational outreach program.
When youth are supported and encouraged by caring individuals, they thrive in unimaginable ways, becoming resourceful and contributing members of families and communities. Bursting with energy, curiosity and spirit that are not easily extinguished, all youth, including those living with HIV, have the potential to change negative societal patterns of behavior and break cycles of HIV infection.