Lockdown impacts HIV prevention programme for adolescent girls and young women

Red Bows

Under level 5 and 4 of South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown regulations adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) aged 14 to 24 years could not meet face-to-face in specially created safe spaces with counsellors, as part of a combination HIV intervention programme.

This has meant opportunities to encourage them to begin taking and adhering to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV were lost, putting them at higher risk of HIV infection. PrEP involves taking a combination of two antiretroviral medicines to prevent HIV infection. Adolescent girls and young women in South Africa are disproportionately at risk for HIV infection with a quarter of new infections occurring in this population.