The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that ~1 770 000 adolescents were living with HIV infection in 2017, of whom >80% were in sub-Saharan Africa. In Malawi, ~25 000 boys and 46 000 girls are infected with HIV.
The present study aimed to evaluate a specific adolescent-friendly service implemented in a Diseases Relief through Excellence and Advanced Means (DREAM) health centre in Malawi. Methods. All HIV-positive patients aged 10-19 years in the care of the DREAM centre in Blantyre on 17 December 2016 were included in the study and followed-up until 1 January 2018. The service was organised for one adult-free day, with some side activities managed by a co-ordinator and youth leaders. Assessments were performed at the end of the period (EOP). Results. On 17 December 2016, 425 patients were enrolled in the study. Follow-up status at EOP was 403 (94.8%) patients in care, 7 (1.6%) lost to follow-up (LTFU), 2 (0.5%) died and 13 (3.1%) were transferred to other facilities. Death and LTFU rates were 0.72/100 and 2.9/100 person-years, respectively. Moreover, 50.6% (n=198/391) of patients had an improvement in body mass index (BMI)-for-age z-scores, and 70.2% (n=33/47) of patients who were malnourished at baseline improved (higher improvement in older patients). Mean (standard deviation (SD)) haemoglobin levels increased from 12.5 (1.5) mg/dL to 13.1 (1.9) mg/dL (significance level p=0.000). At the EOP, 79.0% (n=309/391) of patients had viral suppression.
Care of adolescent HIV+ patients remains a challenge, but the implementation of specific projects involving adolescents and youth leaders can increase adherence and improve viral suppression. © 2020, Health and Medical Publishing Group. All rights reserved.