A Novel Approach to Teen HIV Treatment

I originally came to Tanzania working on a research project regarding prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, which has been a real success story in the HIV epidemic. However, in the adolescent clinic, it’s been quite a different story. In all demographics, mortality is reduced, with the exception of youth 10 to 19, for which mortality actually rose by 50%. We know how to diagnose HIV. We know how to treat HIV. So there really isn’t much of an excuse from a medical standpoint of why these youth are dying of HIV, except behaviors. So we needed to really understand what was preventing them from taking their medicine. You might find a youth gets medicine, and you may find that youth attend the clinic, but youth lack some of the strategies. They don’t really think positive things. What they think is they’re going to die. What they think is they’re going to not be like other people. What we found in our research was that in one cohort, mental health difficulties were around 25%, and in another cohort, they were upwards of 50%. And that these mental health difficulties, such as depression and traumatic symptoms, were highly associated with poor adherence. Some of them, they have denial and fear about their diseases and some of them, they are afraid about the medications’ side effects, and sometimes they have misconceptions and misinformation about the drugs or about the disease. And they also, youth or adolescents, some of them, still they have stigma and discrimination. It means they’re ignored or discriminated by their family or relatives. Addressing these mental health difficulties in youth was quite a new area. We were embarking on a new journey. There were very few mental health specialists. There were no clinical psychologists. So we developed an intervention utilizing lay counselors that we chose to be peers, actually, and trained them up to deliver a mental health intervention called “Sauti ya Vijana,” which means “the voice of youth” in English. These peer group leaders are aware of the challenges that HIV-positive adolescents face. They have a unique perspective, so they’re able to communicate effectively, and also create a safe environment where youth feel comfortable bringing up some of the challenges that they have to face in their daily life. The success of the peer-led model in Sauti ya Vijana led us to try a peer-led model in teaching the HIV curriculum that we designed to be implemented in the adolescent HIV clinic. They learn about how to take their medication. They learn about stigma. So they come with awareness of how to take their medication because many of the youth have different questions. So in mental health services, they can get the answers. This intervention was really developed to give them hope for the future, to let them know that they can have a normal life. They can be just as good as their uninfected peer. And that they can go on to have a good job and to have a family, and to have a child that doesn’t have HIV. Many of these youth really weren’t aware of that. That hadn’t been in their dialogue, and that’s not what they were hearing from society. So, allowing youth to be together, to have a safe place to discuss these issues, and to really give them some empowerment and some resilience as they go about their lives was our goal.

2 Replies to “A Novel Approach to Teen HIV Treatment

  1. greetings to the People out there who are suffering from
    any kind of
    infections. I want to use this medium to thank Dr owobu the great Herbal
    healer for the good work he has done in my life and I will forever be
    gratefull to him.i have been with HIV Virus since 2017.
    and i have be looking for Solution from one hospital to the other and
    responding different treatment but no one could Cure the virus .
    Brethren the fear of these virus has been affecting every aspect of
    my life most especially my Marita life. One day I was on the Internet
    searching for some update about the cure to HIV in WORLD
    HEALTH ORGANIZATION FORUM, so luckily i saw a testimony of a lady
    on how a great herbal healer by name Dr owobu Cured her of HIV
    Virus so I decided to contact him.so I contacted him he told me the procedures and i never
    believe that there could be cure. because I have been to
    different hospital and I have spend allot of money, so I realize that
    my health is what mater's most. And I order for the herbal medicine
    and it was send to me through ups delivery service, I started applying the herbal Medicine as
    instructed, the first week i apply it and the second week I notice
    that the pain and constant fiver where no more then I applied the herbal medicine for complete one
    month and the first week of the other month I went for a medical
    checkup as instructed and behold the text was negative I never
    believe so I went to a different hospital and it was still negative, my
    brothers and sisters i know that there are so many of you that have different king of infections if you have any kind of disease like (1) HIV / AIDS
    (2) CANCER
    (3) HERPES
    (4) DIABETES
    (6) HPV.
    You can also contact him through this email address. [email protected] or whatsapp him through this number +2348114477270.
    god bless you.

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