Keeping adolescents on HIV treatment takes time and kindness

Categories: Care and Research.

Avert, the website providing information and education from around the globe on HIV and AIDS recently reported on findings published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society indicating that experiencing kindness from health staff, having someone to attend clinics with, and not being rushed in appointments are among five key factors needed to retain South African adolescents on their HIV treatment.

The findings are drawn from the experiences of just over 1,000 HIV-positive adolescents (aged 10 to 19) from a low resourced district in the Eastern Cape where HIV prevalence among young people is high.

Researchers identified all 10 to 19 year‐olds who had started antiretroviral treatment (ART) at a government-run facility in the area between March 2014 and September 2015. Combining health records with interviews and self-report data, they assessed the impact of 11 factors on the retention of adolescents in HIV care.

Overall, five factors were found to be strongly associated with retention. These were:

  1. Staff kindness
  2. Being accompanied to clinics and having time in appointments
  3. Having enough money to get to clinics safely
  4. Clinics having HIV medication in stock

Important insight

The findings provide important insight into what matters to HIV-positive adolescents in South Africa when it comes to treatment. It suggests relatively low‐cost interventions within households and clinics could have a direct impact on young people staying on treatment.

Most importantly, it also shows that providing both financial and emotional support for adolescents living with HIV may be equally important for improving retention rates as strengthening health infrastructure and the capacity of the staff.

Click here to read the full report.