Pilot Award Recipient: Sarah Baird, PhD, MS

Sarah Baird

Support Groups for HIV+ Adolescents in Tanzania: A Pilot Study

July 20, 2016

In 2013, UNAIDS estimated that globally, 2.1 million adolescents (age 10-19 years) were living with HIV. Given this large population of HIV positive (HIV+) adolescents, it is important to know what types of programs are effective for moving adolescents along the continuum of care from testing and diagnosis, to linkage with care, to starting antiretroviral therapy, through to viral suppression. One strategy proposed to improve outcomes across the continuum of care are support groups for HIV+ adolescents. This study will investigate the role of Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s (EGPAF) enhanced Adolescent Support Groups (ASGs) for HIV+ youth aged 8-21 in Tanzania in promoting ART adherence and viral suppression. EGPAF’s enhanced ASGs use peer mentors to support adolescents living with HIV to better understand and cope with their condition with the aim of achieving viral suppression. This study will both describe the role that ASGs play in improving outcomes for HIV+ adolescents, as well as looking at barriers that adolescents face in accessing care. The results from this study will provide important information on rates of adherence and viral suppression among HIV+ adolescents in Tanzania as well as documenting the barriers that HIV+ adolescents face in accessing and maintaining care. While the study population is international, it is hoped that lessons learned from this study will provide some insight into the role that support groups might play in addressing the needs of HIV+ adolescents in the greater Washington area, a topic of potential future research.