The journal Reproductive Health Matters has just published a paper examining rights-based services for adolescents living with HIV in Zambia. This issue is increasingly pressing, with more children with HIV surviving into adolescence thanks to antiretroviral therapy. Yet there has been comparatively little progress in strengthening a rights-based approach to adolescent HIV services. The paper is based on a qualitative study in 2010 among 111 adolescents living with HIV, 21 parents and 38 health providers in three districts in Zambia.
Adolescents in the study expressed a range of information and support needs and wanted locally relevant interventions to meet those needs. They wanted greater access to HIV, sexual and reproductive health information, information on how to protect themselves, privacy and confidentiality in service sites, skills training so as to be able to earn money, and better control over disclosure of their HIV status to others. Both health workers and parents acknowledged that information and services needed to be improved to meet those needs far better. This paper provides examples of successful programmes in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa and calls for adolescent services to be linked to both paediatric and adult services, peer networks to be established to increase adolescents' ability to collectively voice their concerns and support each other, interventions supporting adolescents' control over self-disclosure, and lastly that adolescent health should become a training specialty in sub-Saharan Africa.
The paper is available to Reproductive Health Matters subscribers online, and there is a blog about the issue by Gitau Mburu that is freely available.