Botswana Teen Club Launches Groundbreaking Publication!

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The following post is courtesy of Edward Pettitt, Fundraising and Development Coordinator for the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence:

Teen Talk is a question-and-answer guide about positive living for HIV-positive teenagers.

Botswana Teen Club Launches Groundbreaking Publication!

Gaborone, Botswana – 18th June 2010 –

On Wednesday, 16th June, the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence (COE), a paediatric HIV clinic, commemorated Day of the African Child by launching a new publication for HIV-positive youth called “Teen Talk”, the printing of which was sponsored by a generous donation from staff of Barclays Bank Botswana. According to Edward Pettitt, Teen Club Coordinator at the Botswana-Baylor COE, more than 3,000 Batswana adolescents will need antiretroviral (ARV) medications by 2011 and more efforts need to be mobilized to address the unique needs of this age group.

Stated Pettitt, “Adolescence is associated with emotional turbulence, irresponsibility for personal well-being, and difficulty internalizing abstract concepts. Furthermore, there is a lack of accurate, holistic and youth-friendly informational materials available to HIV-positive adolescents on how to live a healthy life.”

To address these challenges, the Botswana-Baylor COE has produced Teen Talk, a groundbreaking question-and-answer guide for HIV-positive youth that covers a variety of topics including ARVs, adherence, friendship, nutrition, exercise, reproductive health, positive prevention, multiple concurrent partnerships, safe male circumcision, prevention of mother to child transmission, emotions and healthy disclosure.

Speaking at the event, Prof. Gabriel Anabwani, Executive Director of the Botswana-Baylor COE, said, “The launching of Teen Talk is certainly a milestone for improving service provision for adolescents living with HIV, not just for Botswana, but for the entire region as well.”

Dr. Haruna Jibril, Paediatric Clinical Advisor for the Masa ARV programme at Ministry of Health affirmed this sentiment stating, “I have visited many programmes throughout southern Africa and no one has been more proactive in addressing the needs of HIV-positive youth than the Botswana-Baylor COE.”

The Botswana-Baylor COE also announced that it is expanding its Teen Club peer support group programme by developing an Adolescent Centre to support a growing number of HIV positive teenagers in Botswana. The proposed Adolescent Centre, located near the current COE in Gaborone, will provide specialized care and support to help the growing population of HIV-positive teenagers overcome the challenges of puberty and adolescence.

Although prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programmes have been effective in drastically reducing the rate of mother-to-child transmission in Botswana, many children born before these services were made available are currently entering their teenage years, thanks to ARVs. However, this medical care must be accompanied by psychosocial support to promote adherence and healthy disclosure; otherwise, the strides that Botswana has made in combating child mortality related to HIV infection may be reversed.

In recognition that teenagers need to be equipped with appropriate knowledge and skills for their transition into adulthood, particularly with regards to living positively with HIV, the Botswana-Baylor COE has been proactive in developing programmes to address their needs.

Funds will be raised to support the Adolescent Centre through the Botswana-Baylor Football Extravaganza, which will take place on 3rd July 2010 from 1400hrs to 2300hrs at the Phakalane Golf Estate Conference Centre. The fundraising dinner will include televised football matches and entertainment with local celebrities, including the 2010 Miss Botswana and players from the national Zebras football team.

Tickets to the event are P300 per person or P2,800 for a table of 10. Tickets can be purchased by phone (319-0083), email (botswanateenclub@gmail.com), or at Riverwalk Mall from Monday, 21st June to Saturday 26th June from 0830hrs to 1630hrs.

The Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence is a collaborative partnership between the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) and the Government of Botswana. Since its inception, more than 10,000 children have been tested for HIV, and over 2,000 children have been started on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

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