Recognizing the growing need, Botswana's Ministry of Health is partnering with Baylor to develop an adolescent care package to train health care workers at government ARV clinics in how to cater for teenage patients.While Botswana is slightly ahead of the curve, other countries in the region are also dealing with growing numbers of HIV-positive adolescents and looking for models they can adapt.The problem with online dating is that you can’t see the person’s face when they’re telling you about themselves.
"Adolescence, as a period of development, has the highest risk for therapeutic failure - not just for ARVs, but any medication for a chronic illness," he told IRIN/Plus News.
"I call it the 'inconvenient truth' of paediatric HIV - it's great that you can put children on ARVs, but you have to realize that one day they're going to grow up and become teenagers, and all the challenges and headaches that come with adolescence are going to impact on their behaviours." Julia Rosebush, a doctor at the Children's Clinic, which provides care and treatment to HIV-infected infants and children through a partnership between the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative and the Botswana government, has already seen how teenage rebellion can translate into treatment failure.
They were joined by volunteers from Barclays Bank, which contributes part of the funding for the programme as well as financial literacy training to the teenagers.
The centre will provide a much needed place where teenagers and their caregivers can come between clinic appointments and monthly events for counselling, training and sports, or just to hang out.
Raging hormones, peer pressure and coming to terms with a changing body image - growing up is difficult enough without the added burden of living with HIV, and keeping it hidden from friends and classmates.
"Being a teenager is very hard; you have to keep up with the changing life, do what the others do," agreed Katlego Lally*, 17, in Botswana's capital, Gaborone, who was born with HIV but only learned of her status six years ago.
"They can't even tell their best friend because they fear that friend will tell others, and they'll never be able to go back to school." For Lally, who started coming to Teen Club last year, realizing that there were other teenagers like her was life changing.
"I was just living in a dark tunnel, waiting for the day I would die," she said.
Lally has decided to stay "out of the dating mode", at least until she finishes school.