Adolescents embody every community's hopes for the future. Adolescence is a time of vibrancy, exploration and self-discovery; it is also a time of rapid and sometimes confusing physical, psychological and emotional changes. Many adolescents take risks as they try to fit in with peers, emulate role models and develop more autonomy. For these reasons, adolescents are vulnerable to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This is particularly true for adolescents who live in settings with a generalized HIV epidemic – especially females in sub-Saharan Africa who, due to entrenched gender norms, face a higher risk of infection than males of the same age. Adolescents who are members of key populations are also at higher risk for HIV acquisition or transmission through sexual transmission and injecting drug use.
From guidance to action
This new interactive tool is designed as a companion to the 2013 guidance issued by WHO with the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF): HIV and adolescents: guidance for testing and counselling and care for adolescents living with HIV. It is based on the technical content of that publication and supports health providers, health planners and community-based organizations that are currently providing, or planning to provide, comprehensive care for adolescents.
The tool illustrates, animates and amplifies the recommendations and key messages of the formal guidelines with practical guidance and engaging, multi-format resources for reaching adolescents and providing more appropriate, appealing and effective HIV testing and counselling, treatment and care services specifically for them. The tool also covers operational considerations that must be addressed for effective implementation of the recommendations. It presents concrete, practice examples of service delivery approaches that have been successful and practical tools that have been useful for some programmes, and that can be replicated or adapted to suit specific settings. It also presents the perspectives of adolescents living with HIV, health providers and planners.