EGPAF Contributes to AIDS Supplement Focused on Adolescent HIV Prevention, Care & Treatment
Progress toward elimination of HIV is growing in nearly all populations, except adolescents (10–19 years of age). The epidemic is not slowing in this age group in resource-limited countries because of poor social acceptance of those living with HIV, increasing incidences of sexual transmission, sexual and gender-based violence, gender inequality, weak education, and various political and programmatic barriers to HIV testing, care and treatment.
Recognizing the urgency in addressing these barriers, AIDS, a prominent scientific journal in the field of HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, has recently published a supplement entitled Achieving 902: Young People, HIV Testing Services and Linkage to Treatment. This supplement will contribute greatly to the body of knowledge on how to prevent, care for, and treat HIV infection in this vulnerable youth population. EGPAF, having active projects focused on adolescents in 14 countries, was invited to contribute to this important issue.
Youth engagement in developing an implementation science research agenda on adolescent HIV testing and care linkages in sub-Saharan Africa
The Project Supporting Operational AIDS Research (Project SOAR), a United States Agency for the International Development-funded research initiative implemented by EGPAF, led development of a strategic research agenda to improve adolescent HIV care continuum outcomes, including HIV testing and counseling and linkage to care. This involved convening a two-day meeting of 50 experts, including youths living with HIV to review literature, develop research questions and priority areas for program implementation. This article presents the process of involving youth, how they shaped the course of discussions, and the resulting priority research gaps identified at the meeting.
Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) among adolescents: a missed opportunity for HIV behavioral interventions
VMMC is one of the first opportunities for adolescent males in African countries to interact with the health care system; HIV counseling at this interaction could maximize HIV prevention opportunities. This study explored male adolescent knowledge around HIV after VMMC and assessed health worker experiences through interviews with 92 VMMC clients (ages 10–19 years) and 33 health providers in South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Clients in all countries reported that limited information was provided about HIV prevention and care during VMMC. Providers reported spending little time talking about HIV prevention, including condom use. This study identifies this male youth interaction in the health care system as a missed opportunity in furthering prevention of HIV in this population.
Optimizing linkage to care and initiation and retention on treatment of adolescents with newly diagnosed HIV infection
Few models to improve adolescents’ and youths’ linkage to care have explored synergies between schools and health clinics. In Homa Bay, Kenya, services for adolescents at health centers were improved and linkages between schools and health centers were made. At the core of this intervention was involvement of youth in the design and implementation of the Red Carpet Program. This intervention addressed the multifaceted needs of youth by providing psychosocial and peer counseling to support timely linkage to care and retention services.
To read more about EGPAF’s work with adolescents, click here.