Challenges and facilitators of transition from adolescent to adult HIV care among young adults living with HIV in Moshi, Tanzania.
INTRODUCTION: Scale up of anti-retroviral therapy has enabled millions of children infected with HIV to survive into adulthood, requiring transition of care to the adult HIV clinic. This transition period is often met with anxiety and reluctance. Youth who fail to transition may create strain on capacity in the pediatric and adolescent clinics or result in individuals dropping out of care entirely. This study examined challenges and facilitators to the transition among young adults living with HIV in Moshi, Tanzania. METHODS: From April to June 2017, in-depth interviews were conducted with young adults aged 18 to 27 years living with HIV in order to capture the spectrum of experiences from pre-transitioning youth to those who successfully transitioned to adult care. Young adults were purposively recruited based on prior study enrollees and recommendations from healthcare staff. Recruitment occurred in the adolescent, adult HIV and the prevention of mother to child transition clinics at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre. Two separate in-depth interviews were conducted with eligible participants. Medical records were reviewed retrospectively to collect information on HIV-related outcomes. RESULTS: In-depth interviews were held with 19 young adults. Participants mean age was 23.8 years (interquartile range 22.2 to 26.3 years); 53% were female. Most (78.9%) participants had been receiving anti-retroviral therapy for nearly a decade and 72.2% were virologically suppressed (HIV RNA <200 copies/mL). Barriers to transition included fear of losing peer networks formed in the adolescent clinic, the abrupt manner in which young adults were asked to transition, stigma, financial constraints and a lower quality of care in the adult clinic. Facilitators of transition included family and social support, positive perspectives on living with HIV and maintenance of good health. Recommendations for transition included transition preparation, transition as a group and adoption of desirable aspects of the adolescent clinic (peer networks and education) in the adult clinic. CONCLUSIONS: Transition is a complex process influenced by many factors. As the number of young adults living with HIV continues to grow, it is vital to develop a transition protocol that addresses these challenges and is feasible to implement in low-resource settings.
Masese, RV; Ramos, JV; Rugalabamu, L; Luhanga, S; Shayo, AM; Stewart, KA; Cunningham, CK; Dow, DE
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