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Positive health, dignity and prevention for Adolescents living with HIV

KAMPALA, UGANDA 28 May 2010 – Participants in a four-day international meeting on providing services for adolescents living with HIV are cautiously optimistic about progress made in meeting the needs of this often marginalised group.  But they remain concerned that much must still be done to ensure that all adolescents who need assistance receive it.

UNICEF, and the World Health Organization in partnership with the Global Network of People living with HIV/AIDS, FHI, Uganda Paediatrics Association and the Makerere University – John Hopkins Research Collaboration jointly convened the Second Global Consultation on Service Provision for Adolescents Living with HIV in Kampala on 24-28 May. 

The meeting brought together government figures, civil society groups, UN representatives, donors and service providers, as well as adolescents and young people living with the virus. 

A joint communique released at the end of the Consultation states that participants “…are encouraged by recent progress in efforts to respond more adequately to the specific needs of adolescents aged 10-19 living with HIV.”

“But,” the document continues, “we remain seriously concerned about the many gaps that remain, which make it impossible for some adolescents living with HIV to live healthy, happy and productive lives.

Consultation participants offered eight recommendations for determining the number of HIV-positive young people and ensuring that services to benefit them are both fully adequate and readily available.

Those recommendations include:

  • Establish mechanisms to actively identify undiagnosed adolescents living with the virus, including those who contracted it through intravenous drug use or sexual contact.
  • Establish data broken down by age to show the number of adolescents aged 10-19 years old living with HIV.  Because late diagnosis and under-diagnosis of HIV infection among young people remains high, it is unknown exactly how many adolescents are living with the virus.
  • Develop programme support tools, and link caregivers with peer support in order to both improve their skills and strengthen their relationship with adolescents living with HIV.
  • Systematically involve people living with HIV in providing peer support to adolescents living with the virus.
  • Ensure the quality and continuity of youth-friendly care for adolescents living with HIV through multidisciplinary and multisectoral support delivered through a continuum of care.
  • Ensure that national educational curricula integrate non-stigmatising, quality comprehensive sexuality education, implemented at scale and evaluated.
  • Adapt and scale up essential minimum services for adolescents living with HIV, and ensure that adequate resources exist for implementing and monitoring this measure.
  • Conduct periodic evaluation, behavioural and sero-surveys, as well as needs assessments, with the objective of identifying bottlenecks, quantifying needs and establishing the resources needed to provide services at scale.

Consultation participants believe that implementation of these recommendations will lead to lower rates of poor health and death among adolescents living with HIV.  The communique points to five key results:

  • Increased early diagnosis of adolescents living with HIV
  • Increased access to comprehensive services for adolescents living with HIV
  • Elimination of stigma and discrimination for adolescents living with HIV at all levels
  • A reduction in new HIV and sexually transmitted infections among adolescents
  • Reduced unintended pregnancies among adolescents living with HIV

The Second Global Consultation called on donors, governments and multilateral institutions to prioritise the needs of adolescents living with HIV by allocating resources aimed at producing the results defined in the meeting.

Worldwide, 2.1 million children under 15 years living with HIV.   Among young people aged 15-24 in low- and middle-income countries, an estimated 4.9 million are living with the virus.

For further information, please contact:
Dr Sabrina Kitaka, Uganda Paediatric Association (UPA)

Linda Barlow-Mosha, Makerere University-Johns Hopkins University Research Collaboration (MU-JHU)

Adam Garner, Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+)

Joy Cunningham, FHI 

Susan Kasedde, UNICEF New York,

Jane Beverly Ferguson, WHO Geneva,

Florence Akiiki Bitalabeho, WHO Geneva,




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