ALHIV Consultation Workshop, Gaborone, 7-10 February 2012
Submitted by Allison Russell on 13 February 2012
The field-driven Consultation Workshop “Transitioning Care, Support and Treatment for Adolescents Living with HIV (ALHIV)” was held from the 7th- 10th February 2012 in Gaborone, Botswana and involved country teams from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Uganda. The workshop built on the work done in 2011 at the Second Global Consultation on Service Provision for Adolescents Living with HIV called by the WHO and UNICEF.
The workshop focused on the physical and psychological issues in adolescence which have to be addressed as adolescents move from child-focused to adult-focused medical care, namely the process of transition. The definition of adolescence, current PEPFAR monitoring which disaggregates data for ages less than 15 and more than 19 years, thus losing the 15-19 year group, and the largely unknown adolescent HIV prevalence as well as the country burden of need are major challenges in providing services for this group. ICAP data for 2011 have shown that 15-19 year olds have the poorest pre-ART retention in care (55% lost to follow-up at one year) and poor adherence on treatment.
Some of the challenges identified by many of the partner presentations were that many adolescents remain unaware of their diagnosis despite being on ART, the age of consent for HIV testing varies regionally and stigma in families, facilities and community impacts on disclosure.
A technical brief and toolkit, informed by the discussions and collaboration from this workshop, are to be made available at a later stage. They aim to bring available resources and data into a useable format for those tasked with designing policies and programs for this group. Transition is but one of a minimum package of services for adolescents which is being proposed by UNICEF.