Teen Support Line
Teen Support Line (TSL) is a recent start-up grassroots organization that aims to provide vital psychosocial support to adolescents living with HIV in Malawi through achievable, cost-effective programming. A majority of the young people living with HIV in Malawi were vertically transmitted, meaning the virus was transmitted during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. Growing up with HIV, rather than contracting it in adulthood, provides a unique set of psychosocial stressors that deeply impact these children’s lives; constantly battling issues such as stigma and discrimination, disclosure, treatment fatigue, medicine adherence difficulties, depression, and more. There are very few psychosocial services that address these stressors, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. To begin to address these needs, TSL will provide a free phone call (hotline) and texting service that teens living with HIV/AIDS in Lilongwe, Malawi, can use to speak with trained counselors about issues they are struggling with. The teens will be able to call or text a toll-free number to talk to counselors daily. All calls will be anonymous with the exception of any emergency or longer-term cases which call takers will immediately refer to a social worker. With this service, TSL aims to reduce the risk for depression and suicide, improve antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence, encourage continued schooling, as well as answer questions about sexual intercourse, relationships and disclosure for adolescents living with HIV.