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Hurungwe - When Winney Mukoreka (57), of Rufaro Farm in Hurungwe - Mashonaland West province, discovered that she was HIV positive in 2013 – she knew she wanted to share her status with her children.  She, however, did not know how to initiate the conversation with her sons. She was afraid this could shame her children and lead them into rebellion.   Her hope in wanting to share her status with her children was to encourage them to take care of their own health and to exercise safe sex. Winney says although she had a good relationship with them, conversations around sexuality had not taken place openly in her home.

In 2014, Winney met a Behaviour Change Facilitator (a community health worker) who after she disclosed her HIV status and her intention to have the conversation with her children told her about the Parent to Child Communication programme on Sexual and Reproductive Health (PCC). 

“As a widow, I was afraid of initiating the conversation with my sons, I didn’t even know where to start but I was sure I wanted them to know in the event that I got really sick, I wanted them to know my status so that they would be able to assist me,” Winnie says.

“I developed an interest in the PCC programme and attended some sessions and told my children about it and we all became a part of the programme.”

PCC brings parents and adolescents together through facilitating group meetings. These group meetings provide an environment for open dialogue and communication on issues around SRHR and SGBV and a social support network within their own community. 

Winney highlights that attending and participating in the PCC sessions helped the family to start opening up to each other on ‘serious issues.’

“It was after a while of attending the sessions that I managed to sit down with my sons and told them that I was HIV positive,” Winnie says.

It was after a while of attending the sessions that I managed to sit down with my sons and told them that I was HIV positive

“They were calm and very supportive about it, although I did not expect this reaction – I was not surprised because the PCC sessions had prepared us for this moment.  The relationship with my sons has greatly improved, they remind me about the importance of adhering to medication and seeking early medical attention when I am not feeling well.”

Dadirai Mashoko, also of Rufaro Farm and a mother of two attends PCC session with Winney, says she and her daughters talk about anything from sexuality to Gender-Based Violence.

“Before my youngest daughter got married, she approached me and asked if it was right to have sex with her boyfriend before marriage, this made me realise that PCC enables our children to feel free to have such discussions with us without fear,” Dadirai says warmly.

Dadirai Mashoko and Winney Mukoreka.  © UNFPA Zimbabwe

The PCC manual emphasises that both adolescents and their parents benefit when issues to do with sexuality are discussed honestly and open. There are both immediate and long-term benefits in sexual reproductive health for the adolescent and relational benefits for the family unit. These benefits extend beyond the family environment to the community as a whole as health outcome improve and communal relationships improve. The program addresses concerns noted in adolescents and youth programs where many parents face challenges in having discussions with young people on relationships, development and sex.

The Parent-Child Communication Program (PCC) was designed and piloted with the intention of increasing the comfort of parents and adolescents in discussing sensitive issues surrounding sexuality and reproductive health. The pilot was successfully conducted under the H4+ initiative in 2015-2016. The programme has since been scaled up with funding from the Health Development Fund and the UNFPA Safe Guard Young People Program (SYP) which is co-funded by the Swiss Development Agency. The HDF is funded by the governments of Britain, Ireland, Sweden and the European Union.