HIV prevalence in adolescents’ aged 13- 19 stands at 3.5%. Adolescents are a sexually active group exposed to unwanted pregnancies and STDS/ HIV infections which they continue passing on to peers and offsprings. They are therefore a key target in gaining control over the spread of HIV. Despite their importance, they have limited access to HCT and other relevant services in most of Ugandan health facilities. Data of Buyinja health centre IV (July 2010 to June 2011) shows that of the 2821 adolescents that visited the facility, only 16% had ever tested for HIV and of the 84% who did not know their status, only 32% were offered HCT, the rest went away without the service. In addition, the facility lacked adequate counseling service for the adolescents that turned out HIV positive.
In order to address this gap the quality improvement team of Buyinja health centre IV implemented the following strategies; (i) introduced a child/ adolescent clinics that are run every Monday during which activities like HCT, counseling on special needs, games, music, dance and drama are done, (ii) introduced HCT points in all departments of the health facility, so as to capture as many adolescents as possible, (iii) formed a “referral network team” that links adolescents to their clinic and follows up those who have not reached the destination point, (iv) held monthly meetings to review progress, recruitment and follow up of adolescents and (v) invited a pediatric counselor to speak to the children/ adolescents during clinic days.
In a period of 6 months the percentage of adolescents who received HCT increased from 32% to78%. The proportion of adolescents attending the HIV clinic increased from 15% to 25.6% and family planning uptake among adolescents increased from 14% to 35%.
There is need for multiple strategies and team work in order to address the complex needs of adolescents. Adolescent should be thought of as a priority requiring extra effort in order to fulfill the theme of virtual elimination of peadiatric HIV