The workshop brought together interdisciplinary professionals working with youth living with HIV with the aim of sharing their experience, knowledge, and best practices in order to define ways to optimize care and treatment for young people living with HIV.
It covered a full spectrum of developmental changes in adolescence; including social, behavioral, and physiological aspects and the impact of HIV-positive status; learning about prevention programs, testing, treatment, and support services for adolescents; barriers faced in providing these services and ways to mitigate these barriers was the focus of discussion at the workshop.
A high number of speakers agreed with the fact that adolescents are at a crossroads in their development, making it difficult to focus on and sustain adolescent health care. Every one of them agrees that every effort must be made to integrate and keep young people in care so that they can improve and maintain their health over the long term.
The workshop was to facilitate meaningful engagement of adolescents yet there was minimal or less to no participation of young people. Most of the panelists were older people and for those activities in which young people were engaged, they were provided with guidance on how to speak, and it stifled their freedom of expression as they were not liberal in their voices of expression. Discussions furthered into exploring research design solutions for adolescents and identifying evidence-based practices that can translate into programs; translating those research results into best practices to optimize interventions because for the longest time information has been gathered but not effectively used. The workshop also did highlight the importance of bridging the gap between the field of research and implementation with the likes of the upcoming development of the long injectable ARVS.
Take away message from the overall conference is that adolescents require actions that will build competence, confidence, character, etc and good caring for them is vital to enable them to stay healthy and cope with challenges they face and use opportunities they are presented with. It is very critical to address the harmful and unequal gender norms and relations that can impact adolescents’ current and future health. There ought to be solutions to challenges and barriers faced by adolescents affected and living with HIV, including systematic structural barriers. Also, there is a need for comprehensive youth engagement and leadership to improve health services, implementation of programs, and research in general.
Adolescents’ well-being is said to be good health and optimum nutrition, connectedness, positive value, safety, and a supportive environment, so for adolescents to meet their development potential they must be exposed to enabling environments across their life course. It is noted that there is a vast need to identify psychosocial support and ensure there are watertight implementation interventions.