SisterLove International South Africa has been implementing the iSTARSHIPP (Innovative Strategies for Those At Risk Seeking High Impact Prevention and PrEP) Program, in the eThekwini and uMgungundlovu Districts in Kwa-Zulu Natal Province and in the Ekurhuleni and City of Johannesburg Districts in Gauteng Province.
iSTARSHIPP is a DREAMS Innovation Challenge project funded by PEPFAR. The iSTARSHIPP Initiative is an innovative suite of strategies that are intended to accelerate the reduction of new HIV infections among Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) and their male counterparts. The primary goal is to educate, prepare, advocate and support communities, especially women/girls and young men, for the implementation of High Impact Prevention (HIP) programs including prevention technologies such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), Treatment as Prevention (TasP), Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC), and microbicides and vaccines; as well as to build the capacity of local community-based organizations (CBOs), parents, and health care providers through training and mentorship.
iSTARSHIPP is a compendium of innovative interventions that includes capacity building, community education and prevention advocacy; designed as a collective or group of individual interventions that can be trained, evaluated, monitored and replicated.
iSTARSHIPP is uniquely suited to address challenges faced by adolescents and young people and provides high quality and reliable information in a safe space. HIV Testing Services (HTS) and linkage to care is provided onsite when interventions are facilitated. It is innovative and unique, because its grounded in the following principles of practice: women-centered, feminist-based, human rights & reproductive justice, lived experiences/power of own story, respect and acknowledgement of women’s sexuality and sexual rights, non-judgmental, inclusive and trusted, and, the “I” principles (imagination, inclusion, innovation, intersectional, interrelated & interdependent, integration).
Using evidence-based programs have demonstrated the ability to reduce HIV incidence; and increasing networks provides opportunities for peer-to-peer information sharing that can increase the use of effective approaches and impact behavior.
Healthy Love Party (HLP) workshop is an effective, evidence-based, one-time group-level intervention that incorporates information, empowerment, skills building and risk assessment for women, men, AGYW, and other populations at substantial risk for HIV. In 2012, HLP became an approved intervention that was included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Compendium of Effective HIV Prevention Interventions. HLP integrates several components: education/information (increase knowledge of HIV/STIs, modes of transmission, and effective biomedical and high-impact prevention strategies), self-awareness/risk assessment (increase awareness of risk for getting HIV and STIs and their knowledge of behavior that affects their risk), reducing sexual stigma (increase comfort in discussing sexuality and acceptance of their own and other sexual identities), and skills development (increase participants’ ability to practice safer sex and comfort in utilizing safer sex techniques).
Prevention Options for Women at Risk (POWaR) Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) are conducted with CBOs and AGYW from local organizations and within the community. The aim is to learn how to use and implement the standardized PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) 101 Presentation to facilitate discussions about the policies, practices, benefits and barriers to PrEP and other HIP interventions. These facilitated sessions provide valuable qualitative data on PrEP knowledge, attitudes and intentions of adolescents and young people in high incidence communities.
SisterLove International South Africa trains and supports CBOs to strengthen its current/future HIV/STI screening and testing program. This includes enhanced risk assessment of individuals and couples seeking HIV/STI testing including successful linkage to care and prevention services.