Providing Comprehensive Support to Adolescents Living with HIV
In 2012 an estimated 2.1 million adolescents were living with HIV. Young people ages 15 to 24 accounted for an estimated 40 percent of new nonpediatric HIV infections worldwide, and perinatal HIV transmission remains a major cause for HIV infection among adolescents. Before antiretroviral therapy (ART) was developed and expanded, children infected with HIV did not usually live to adolescence. But today, thanks to widespread HIV care and treatment programs, they can lead long, healthy, and productive lives. The same is true for those who are infected as adolescents — young people ages 10 to 19 — as long as they know their HIV status. As HIV infections among adolescents continue to rise and more children living with HIV are surviving into adolescence, the unique needs of adolescents living with HIV require much more attention.
Adolescents who are newly diagnosed (or who have only recently learned of their status) have wide-ranging needs—some of which are unique to people their age. They require accurate information about their diagnosis and care and treatment options. They need information about preventing transmission to others, guidance about adhering to treatment, and support in making decisions about disclosure. Adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) also need long-term treatment, counseling, and support —to come to terms with their diagnosis, to discuss what it means grow up living HIV, and to transition from pediatric to adult care.