Perceptions of counsellors and youth-serving professionals about sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents in Soweto, South Africa.
BACKGROUND:Adolescents in South Africa remain vulnerable to HIV. Therefore, it is crucial to provide accessible adolescent-friendly HIV prevention interventions that are sensitive to their needs. This study aimed to investigate the perceptions of HIV counsellors and other youth-serving professionals about the barriers to providing adolescent youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents in Soweto, South Africa. The study also explored how sexual and reproductive health services in South Africa could be improved to become more accessible to adolescents. METHODS:The research team conducted two focus group discussions with HIV counsellors, and 19 semi-structured interviews with youth-serving professionals from organisations working with adolescents. Audio-recorded data were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. RESULTS:The results of the study reveal that counsellors were expected to give adolescents HIV counselling and testing (HCT) but felt restricted by what they perceived as inflexible standard operating procedures. Counsellors reported inadequate training to address adolescent psychosocial issues during HCT. Healthcare provider attitudes were perceived as a barrier to adolescents using sexual and reproductive health services. Participants strongly recommended augmenting adolescent sexual and reproductive health services to include counsellors and adolescents in developing age- and context-specific HIV prevention services for adolescents. CONCLUSION:Continuous upskilling of HIV counsellors is a critical step in providing adolescent-friendly services. Input from all relevant stakeholders, including counsellors and adolescents, is essential in designing adolescent-friendly services.
Mulaudzi, M; Dlamini, BN; Coetzee, J; Sikkema, K; Gray, G; Dietrich, JJ
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