Auntie Stella arrives in Cape Town

The 'Auntie Stella' life skills training kit for adolescents is a product of the Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC –, which is based in Harare Zimbabwe. Auntie Stella provides a means of discussing sensitive life skills issues with the youth, and answers some of the needs identified at an adolescent service planning workshop presented by the Kidzpositive Family Fund and Paediatric AIDS Treatment for Africa (PATA –

A recent meeting between Kidzpositive, (PATA), Sidaction, the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) and TARSC provided an opportunity to discuss the roll-out of Auntie Stella life skills training kits to ARV counselors throughout the Western Cape Province.

Barbara Kaim, who has been integral in developing and implementing Auntie Stella in Zimbabwe and neigbouring countries, added great value to the meeting. Barbara was visiting Cape Town to train 11 Counsellor Trainers of the Western Cape AIDS Training Information and Counselling Centre (ATICC).

TARSC is 'training the trainers' who will in turn train ARV counsellors in the use of Auntie Stella as a means of teaching life skills ot youth living with HIV/AIDS.

Auntie Stella uses letters written by imaginary teenagers to an 'agony aunt', together with answers from Auntie Stella to open discussion around a set of 42 life skills issues (including 11 AIDS-specific questions).

The expectation is that young people between the ages of 12-19 will find it easier to talk about matters that worry them. Values imbedded in the Auntie Stella replies have been carefully considered and the tool has been very successfully implemented in other African countries. DTHF and Kidzpositive will collaborate in assisting ATICC and the HIV/AIDS Directorate of the Western Cape Province in rolling out training on and implementation of the Auntie Stella pack; and in evaluating the impact of this intervention.

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