Teen Club: A Peer Support Group for HIV-positive Adolescents

Category 2

In 2005, the first Teen Club for HIV-positive adolescents in Botswana was started at the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence (COE). The mission of Teen Club is “to empower HIV-positive adolescents to build positive relationships, improve their self-esteem and acquire life skills through peer mentorship, adult role-modelling and structured activities, ultimately leading to improved clinical and mental health outcomes as well as a healthy transition into adulthood.”

Botswana Teen Club currently has over 450 active members and attendance is increasing every month. Teen Club events typically occur on Saturdays and have included large group games, drama activities, pool parties, safaris, movie nights, and art sessions. They also incorporate educational components into events including topics on reproductive health, ARV adherence, disclosure, life skills, college preparation, personal finance management, and goal-setting. Teen Club strives to give each teen the opportunity to normalize their social experiences and to improve their outlook on life.

Since 2008, Teen Club expanded to five satellite sites throughout Botswana through innovative partnerships with local ARV clinics and community-based organizations, with plans to roll out the support group to even more satellite sites in the near future. The Botswana Teen Club model has been replicated in five other countries—Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania—making Teen Club the largest network of peer support groups for HIV-positive adolescents in the world.

Goal of the Practice
  • Empower HIV-positive adolescents to build positive relationships, improve self-esteem, and acquire life skills through peer mentorship, adult role-modelling, and structured activities—ultimately leading to improved clinical and mental health outcomes, as well as a healthy transition into adulthood
  • Expand Teen Club to new towns and villages throughout Botswana in partnership with local NGOs and ARV hospitals
  • Train teen leaders (peer educators) on communication and leadership skills
  • Develop and implement life skills curricula at monthly Teen Club events and camps
  • Train NGO and health care partners on how to provide care and support for HIV-positive adolescents
  • Empower parents and caregivers to provide optimal support to HIV-positive children and adolescents
  • Conduct research that will contribute to the body of knowledge on the needs of HIV-positive adolescents and effective interventions for this emerging population
Core Components
  • Monthly Teen Club events (combining recreation and life skills education) at established sites
  • Ongoing development of satellite sites (need assessments, organizational assessments, site visits, etc.)
  • One-on-one counseling and referrals
  • Periodic residential life skills camps
  • Training for non-healthcare professionals on pediatric and adolescent HIV care and support
  • Training for Teen Leaders (Peer Educators) on communication and leadership skills
  • Training for NGO partners on fundraising and marketing
  • Training and educational sessions for parents and caregivers
  • Life skills curricula development and rollout
Noteworthy Results
  • Established five satellite sites in addition to the main Teen Club site in Gaborone
  • Hired and trained four staff members (Teen Club Coordinator, Satellite Sites Coordinator, Project Assistant-Driver and Peer Educator)
  • Reached 473 adolescents (275 female; 198 male) through life skills informational sessions via monthly Teen Club events in six Teen Club sites.
  • Trained 16 Teen Leaders (8 female; 8 male) on communication and leadership skills.
  • Created 12 life skills modules on issues such as sexual and reproductive health, adherence, disclosure and financial literacy
  • Conducted five residential life skills camps reaching 138 adolescents (72 female; 66 male)
  • Trained 23 non-healthcare professionals on pediatric and adolescent HIV care and support
  • Trained 39 NGO partners on fundraising and marketing
  • Educated 27 caregivers of HIV-positive adolescents on topics related to adherence support and parenting skills
  • Assisted Swaziland Teen Club to train 75 Peer Educators
  • Published and distributed 2,000 copies of Teen Talk, a question and answer guide for HIV-positive adolescents, in both English and Setswana
Lessons Learned
  • As a result of Teen Club, participants report being better at handling daily life, getting along with family and peers, performing academically, coping when things go wrong, accepting their HIV status, adhering to medications, practicing life skills, and report having more hope for the future
  • Teen Club members have expressed a need for information and guidance on healthy disclosure as very few teens have admitted to disclosing their serostatus to a friend or romantic partner
  • Rollout of satellite sites has enabled decentralization of Teen Club and capacity building of civil society partners to provide adolescent HIV care and support
  • Teens and volunteers prefer hands-on, interactive, and visual teaching methods
  • Staff and volunteers have responded positively to trainings on pediatric and adolescent HIV care and support as well as fundraising and marketing
  • Adolescents living with HIV require information about healthy decision-making and how it relates to their infection in order to live positively and avoid treatment failure
  • Feedback from adolescents involved in the initial rollout of the Teen Talk guide has been overwhelmingly positive regarding its use as an information resource
  • Teen Club plays an important role in normalizing the lives of the teens enrolled
Focus Areas
Care and Support
Implemented By
Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence
Participating Organization
N/A
Region
Africa
Country
Botswana
Environment
N/A
Setting
Other/Non-specified
Target Population
  • Adolescents (ages 13-17)
  • People Living with HIV (PLWH)
Scope
> 50000
Implementation Years
03/2005 - ongoing