The Operation Triple Zero (OTZ) initiative is an asset-based program that aims to nurture the potential within adolescents and young people living with HIV (AYPLHIV) aged 10 – 24 years to be part of the solution to their health challenges. OTZ engages AYPLHIV as active stakeholders and partners in their health by promoting a responsive service model to ensure AYPLHIV commits to OTZ goals and caregivers’ full participation in AYPLHIV treatment goals. The intervention in ART comprehensive sites in Anambra state has led to better health outcomes, including viral load suppression for adolescents and children living with HIV/AIDS. A total of 80 adolescents had an unsuppressed viral load.
15-year-old Abigail is a Junior Secondary School student diagnosed with HIV in 2016 when she was only 9-year-old. Growing up in a rural part of the state, she got exposed to the virus at a tender age and had to cope with the challenges of commencing medication for HIV as a child. Though she initially resisted daily intake of the Antiretroviral Therapy due to the taste and size of the medication. She subsequently began to adhere to her drugs through constant support and care from her mother. Five years later, she began to default on her medication again, and viral load tests revealed a high unsuppressed level. With this development, Abigail was enrolled in the OTZ club at Iyi-Enu hospital, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra state. At the club, she had the opportunity to meet and interact with her peers and with constant encouragement by the peer group, in addition to intensive enhanced adherence counselling, she achieved not just viral suppression but also undetectable viral load. On one of the visits to the facility, the project team met a healthy and excited young Abigail and engaged her in a conversation where she said, “In the past, I used to feel sad to take my drugs and would sometimes throw them away when my mom gives me to take it. Then, I was always falling ill. But when I started coming to this meeting and met my peers at the hospital, we chat and I get answers to my questions even from my peers who are also taking the drugs. Since then, I have been encouraged to take my drugs. Thanks to all the people that have helped me to stay alive.”