Second Decade, Second Chance (SDSC)

AIDS is now the leading cause of death among adolescents (10-19 years) living with HIV in Africa. This startling statistic shines a spotlight on the need for adolescent-specific treatment and care programmes that specially take into account the unique needs of HIV-infected children who have survived into adolescence, as well as teenagers who may have acquired the virus from risky behaviours.

There, however, is limited information about how to effectively address the needs of adolescents in HIV programmes because most initiatives have thus far targeted children or adults living with the virus. What is known is adolescents have significantly worse access to ART and lower adherence rates than adults, and they often struggle with higher risks of depression and rates of psychological stress than children and adults. Additionally, across the PATA network, frontline health workers reported challenges with unsafe sex practices, teen pregnancy and low uptake of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services at their facilities.

There is a need to develop adolescent-friendly health services (AFHS) and policies that address challenges in treatment and care. But what would such a service and policy look like? And who should lead such a programme?

While barriers to access and retention are multifaceted, health providers and policymakers have a central responsibility to provide services that effectively address adolescents’ unique needs. But they need help to gather evidence that will inform adaptations in health facility practices and HIV policies.

PATA and the MAC Foundation began working together in early 2016 to gather the necessary data that can effectively improve adolescent HIV services in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These countries were selected because they account for 39% of all adolescents living with HIV globally. The initiative provides small grants and capacity-building support to promising adolescent HIV and SRH pilot projects in the 5 focus countries.

Key programmatic objectives:

1. To support promising peer-led adolescent HIV and SRH pilot projects in the 5 focus countries;

2. To advocate for improved HIV and SRH service integration in policy and practice

3. To build PATA’s monitoring, evaluation, research and advocacy capacity

Please contact Heleen Soeters for further information on the programme: heleen@teampata.org