Through the many presentations, activities and events during the three days of the 2nd International Workshop on HIV Adolescence: Challenges and Solutions, the emphasis on youth involvement was highlighted consistently. It is through this lens that SHARE staff reflect on thoughts from youth participants before its closing.
Looking at where we have come from, and where we are in southern Africa’s fight against HIV, it is clear that we have had some monumental successes and some incredible failures along the way, both of which we can learn from to do better. One clear theme throughout the first day of the 2nd International Workshop on HIV Adolescence: Challenges and Solutions was that we have not consistently and adequately gained the insights of the very people who are enrolled in studies to generate evidence on how to address the needs of these populations. Further, we have not committed the resources required to conduct the research on the populations that are difficult to reach, whether due to challenging ethical enrolment or stigma and criminalization of key populations.
Despite the fact that people under the age of 18 make up about 25% of the global population, research among adolescents has been a neglected area. We know that it is important to conduct research among pediatric and adolescent populations, but to date the focus has remained on adults. Just how significant the risks are of not including adolescents in clinical trials emerged as a key theme at the 2nd International Workshop on HIV Adolescence, as well as the logistical, ethical, legal, justice, and human rights considerations that need to be taken into account when designing and implementing research involving adolescents.
Over the last three decades, a range of biomedical and behavioral approaches have dramatically reduced HIV incidence throughout the world and improved the quality and availability of life-saving treatment for those living with HIV.
Lindsey Freeze, Brand & Creative Services Manager, IntraHealth International
A few years ago Dany Stolbunov, now 20, told his doctor in Ukraine that he wanted to go to medical school. He was sharing his ambitions with someone he admired and trusted, who he thought might believe in him, the person responsible for his care.
People infected and affected by HIV face multiple, far-reaching barriers every day – from structural barriers affecting their access to services and care, to societal and scientific barriers keeping them from enjoying healthy, safe, and full lives. We highlight some of these barriers, and what innovative approaches are being developed to bridge them.