Active Research

Africaid’s Zvandiri:
Exploring the Scalability of Peer-led HIV Interventions Among Youth

University of Toronto

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for two-thirds of people living with HIV globally. Youth in the region, particularly young women and girls, are disproportionately vulnerable to the virus because of associated stigmas and limitations in testing and treatment access. Zvandiri, a non-profit program run by Africaid, was created in 2004 in response to this issue. The initiative connects youth living with HIV (YLHIV) to trained counsellors also living with HIV called Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS). CATS improve access to HIV testing and treatment while providing mental health support within their communities. Their holistic and peer-based approach is the linchpin to Zvandiri’s success, which has also helped address community-wide stigmas associated with HIV. Zvandiri has expanded to 9 African countries with 1600 CATS supporting 56,000 youths. They aim to expand their model to 20 countries by 2030 and reach 1 million YLHIV.

This case study report will explore the potential for this expansion by identifying how Zvandiri’s peer-based approach to youth HIV testing/treatment can be applied to different regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. We aim to evaluate the efficacy and expansion of different models, such as Zvandiri’s Young Mentor Mother program which focuses on empowering and reducing barriers for young mothers with HIV.