🌍 Happy World Sexual Health Day 2023! 🌟

In a world abundant with information, let us pause and reflect on the essence of consent as we celebrate this year’s theme. ‘Consent’ is not just a word – it is a cornerstone of respect, communication, and empowerment in every sphere of life. 💙

Meet Monica, a proud beneficiary of the USAID-funded Malawi EMPOWER Project who belongs to Tikondane DREAMS Club in Phalombe. As she reads a flier about HIV self-testing, distributed by the project, Monica eloquently states, “EMPOWER conducts health talk sessions and distributes resources like fliers with the necessary information for us to make informed decisions before accessing SRH and HIV integration services from the project’s outreach clinics. Whenever we decide to access the services, we sign consent forms. This approach has taught me that consent means embracing our choices, boundaries, and feelings. It’s a shield of mutual respect that empowers us.”

HIV self testing poster

Monica’s sentiments are echoed by a group of Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW), all beneficiaries of the EMPOWER Project. With the flier on PrEP in their hands – provided by the project – they express that access to information on SRH and HIV empowers them to make informed decisions on any services they access from the project.

Before providing services, EMPOWER prioritizes obtaining consent from every AGYW. For AGYW aged 10 to 13, EMPOWER involves their parents or guardians to accompany them and grant consent before the girl’s access HIV testing services. These steps underscore the project’s commitment to ensuring that all services are accessed with informed consent.

It is important to note that the project uses an advance consent form  for AGYW under 13 years requiring testing services in sites. Consent is provided by parents and guardians of AGYW less than 13 years at household level prior to service delivery. The advance consent form was developed in collaboration with  District Health Offices and  DREAMS partners  in the project’s implementation districts of Zomba, Phalombe, and Machinga to address the issue of  AGYW  not eligible  HIV  testing services because of lack of consent . This collaborative effort ensures that the consent process is comprehensive and aligned with the best interests of the AGYW we serve.

On this World Sexual Health Day, let us unite in celebrating the significance of consent and the power of accurate information. Together, we create a world where choices are honored, voices are amplified, and respect flourishes.

#WorldSexualHealthDay #EmpoweredChoices #ConsentMatters

Consent form

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