Link Up is a 3 year Netherlands Government (BUZA) funded project. The program intends to increase health seeking behavior’s and uptake of quality integrated maternal health, family planning and HIV information, services and commodities amongst young people affected by HIV and uphold their sexual and reproductive rights. It consequently aims at achieving better sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for young people 10 to 24 years of age affected by HIV.
The program is implemented in 11 districts of Uganda since January 2013 by a consortium of six partners with CHAU as the prime. The partners are Marie Stopes Uganda, Mild May Uganda (MMUG), Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL), Family Life Education Program (FLEP), Integrated Community Based Initiative (ICOBI), Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre (NTIC); and MARPI. CHAU further works in collaboration with Ministry of Health, UNFPA, CYSRA, ICW East Africa and the Ugandan Network of Young People Living with HIV (UNYPA).
The districts include Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Kayunga, Kamuli, Mayunge, Iganga, Bugiri, and Namutumba. Full scale project implementation in Luweero and Nakasongola districts, awaits completion of a baseline survey due mid this year.
Link Up is a peer led project and particularly targets young people living with HIV, female sex workers, young men who have sex with men, fisher folk as well as ‘boda-boda’ riders and truck drivers within the project districts. The program provides young people with a range of integrated SRHR/HIV services. Family planning, STI and HIV services, as well as tailored information and counseling around issues of gender and sexuality, are among the key interventions Link Up offers to young people. The package includes education, condom and IEC distribution, provision of contraception and family planning services; HIV counseling and testing; STI prevention and treatment services, and the prevention of gender-based violence and post-violence care.
Services are provided to targeted young people during community outreaches, home visits and at drop in centers. Services are as well provided at public health centers and hospitals. Selected health and social workers, counselors and peer educators were trained and provide youth friendly services to the young people in the community and at health facilities.
To date, Link Up has trained over 120 health workers and social workers; and 250 peer educators in delivery of youth and key population friendly SRHR and HIV related services. Other efforts to deliver quality services are formation of youth friendly corners and provision of services at 270 delivery sites, procurement of family planning commodities and provision of Ministry of Health standards and guidelines. As a result, more than 13,700 young people have received services from these sites. Although several clients appreciate the quality of services they receive, CHAU intends to systematically assess the degree of their satisfaction