Empowering Youth Living with HIV

What is more important to an adolescent living with HIV than ARVs?



Most adolescents in the majority world are given medication and taught how to use it. But they are not taught how to live a mentally, emotionally or physically healthy lifestyle or how to live in a world that largely stigmatizes people living with HIV.

If adolescents can't see that their lives have meaning and that there is hope for the future there is no incentive to take ARVs or live responsible lives, and they will further be limited in achieving their full potential.



•   A faith-based psychosocial support program for adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV)

•   The Maarifa curriculum is a tool for community and church leaders to impact the lives of ALHIV

•   An open source curriculum document that allows those using it to add their cultural context to the narrative and program design

•   An online facilitator training course and resources that will enhance the effectiveness of the delivery of the material
•  Designed to be a community-based program, held within the surrounds of a health care facility that allows trained community volunteers and health care professionals to work hand-in-hand to insure the health and well-being of ALHIV
•   A safe place for ALHIV to share experiences; to ease fears, anxiety and doubts
•   A place for ALHIV to learn more about body changes
•   A means to acquire life skills and abilities of psychosocial competencies that help them cope effectively with the challenges of living with HIV
•   A process of identifying personal goals
•   A process of becoming self-aware, which is the ability to understand who they are as well as their strengths and weaknesses. This enables the youth to work on his or her weakness and build on his or her strengths
•   A place for ALHIV to learn to appreciate the role of critical thinking in their lives. This enables adolescents to analyze a situation, make decisions and give their own opinion even if it differs from others
•   A program that helps adolescents to feel confident about themselves and their decisions

Maarifa is a faith-based holistic approach to educating and empowering adolescents age 10-19 living with HIV. The Maarifa curriculum uses The Armor of Positive Living framework to impart life skills, emotional, and spiritual support.


The Armor of Positive Living is loosely based on Ephesians 6:10, which calls us to put on the Armor of God. It uses the word SACRIFICE as an acrostic. For each letter in the word sacrifice, a piece of armor and a subject having to do with HIV are attached.

Maarifa at a Glance

What is it about?

Maarifa is a Swahili word that means a plan to get over a difficulty. Maarifa is a faith-based holistic approach to educating and empowering adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV).

The Maarifa curriculum is:

  • Developed around a framework called The Armor of Positive Living which is loosely based on Ephesians 6:10 about putting on the Armor of God

  • Designed around a 10 act play and uses the character's lives for discussing the lesson topics

  • Designed with youth appropriate language and illustrations

  • Designed to be adapted for different cultural contexts

  • Includes a Facilitator’s Manual and a Youth Booklet

  • Free to download from MyMaarifa.org


For more information on the Maarifa curriculum, please click on the curriculum page.

Who is it for?

Target audience: Youth ages 10-19 living wtih HIV. Younger and older youth may take part in Maarifa depending on their maturity and need.

Ideal Delivery Model:

  • Volunteer facilitators and peer mentors use the Maarifa curriculum as a tool to help ALHIV in their communities live positively 

  • Maarifa classes meet at the clinic where the ALHIV receive treatment

  • Community churches provide food and pastoral support

See the Take Action page for more information about the roles and responsibilities of volunteers, community leaders, churches and health care facilities.


©2018 by MyMaarifa