As of 2015, approximately 1 million children and adolescents had lost their parents due to HIV in Malawi. Improvements in knowledge, self-efficacy, and contraceptive access are needed to encourage wider testing, consistent condom use and other preventive behaviors.
One Community was implemented by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs in partnership with Plan International USA, Project HOPE and Global Interfaith AIDS Alliance. From 2016 to 2021, the project worked in eight districts of Malawi, including Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Phalombe and Zomba. The project’s strategy was based on the Socioecological Model that links the actions of individual children, adolescents and adults to the actions of families and communities, the services available to them and the social structures that govern them. One Community enabled community resource persons to deliver core packages of evidence-based interventions tailored to groups including orphans and vulnerable children, as well as their families, adolescents and adults living with HIV, people working in the fishing industry and mobile workers. The project team worked closely with the Senegalese Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Welfare, along with PEPFAR and other stakeholders to define priority vulnerable populations and standard minimum packages of services. Activities specifically focused on community mobilization and engagement of local partners to reduce incidence of new HIV infections and improve clinical, social and economic outcomes for orphans, vulnerable children, adolescent girls, young women and their caregivers.
Plan’s focus areas within the project were orphans and vulnerable children, early childhood development and provision of services for adolescents living with HIV/AIDS, including youth economic empowerment activities.
Plan also contributed to PEPFAR’s DREAMS initiative to reduce new HIV infections among vulnerable adolescent girls and young women. DREAMS encouraged positive sexual health behaviors, increased access to sexual and reproductive health services and created an enabling environment for adolescent girls and young women by supporting caregivers, addressing harmful community norms and practices and creating safe spaces in schools and in communities.