The Thandizo approach supports young people living with HIV to adhere to treatment. It is a combination of support groups and a mobile app. This online application is used by Community Health Care Workers and peer educators. At the same time, the app collects data on responses, which supports health facilities to adapt services based on the needs of young people with HIV.

The approach is jointly developed by Aidsfonds and the Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (COWLHA) in co-creation with young people themselves in two districts in Malawi. Thandizo means “support” in Chichewa language.

Time frame

2019 - 2025


People living with HIV, Young people



The Thandizo Approach

The Thandizo risk assessment tool is developed and tested with implementers and young people themselves. The app identifies risks for non-adherence, provides referrals, tips and advice based on individual needs. It is used in both group sessions with a peer educator or individual consultations with a community health worker. Young people receive information regarding treatment, adherence, healthy living, dealing with stigma, need for support, mental health support with the aim to adhere to their treatment, accept their HIV status, live healthy and feel more supported by people in their family and community.Illustration of the Thandizo approach


Evidence shows that young people living with HIV are worse off with regard to treatment coverage and outcomes. Young people have individual needs and have different reasons for their non-adherence. Adolescent-specific services can help to keep them into care. Unfortunately, such services are rarely available and often healthcare providers have little experience in providing services for young people.


To have a reduced non-adherence to ART for young people living with HIV in Chikwawa and Mangochi districts in Malawi.


The Thandizo approach proved to be successful in improving treatment adherence among young people living with HIV in Chikwawa and Mangochi districts. Data results showed decreased numbers of young people who stopped treatment and increased members in support groups. Community health volunteers reported feeling supported and witnessed improvements among young people. Young people reported improvements in knowledge, mental health and confidence to continue adhering to treatment. For more results and information, download the Thandizo pilot evaluation 4-pager.


What next? Future of Thandizo

With this pilot project, we show how a risk assessment tool can contribute to helping young people living with HIV adhere to treatment and how involving young people from the start is part of the solution. The success of Thandizo allowed Aidsfonds and COWLHA to explore options for scaling up the approach to support more young people living with HIV in other districts and countries. Together we aim to:

  • Lobby to stakeholders to adopt the support group model and Thandizo approach. In Malawi, it has been proven to be more effective than the already existing teen groups. Aidsfonds and COWLHA can provide technical guidance and training on adopting Thandizo.
  • Explore opportunities with stakeholders and partners to gather funding for scaling up the approach.


Partner with us!

Aidsfonds is interested in working together to further strengthen community leadership, increase HIV prevention choices, and improve treatment outcomes and quality of life of people living with or exposed to HIV. We want to talk to anyone who shares our dream and wants to join us on a journey toward a world free of AIDS.

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