An assessment of the characteristics of adolescents at enrolment into anti-retroviral therapy, and factors influencing their retention into HIV care and treatment in Zimbabwe
Kuwengwa, Rudo Angeline
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This study was undertaken within the context of stagnation in the trend of new HIV infections among adolescents globally coupled with increasing mortality within this sub-population as well (UNICEF 2015 report). This trend in no different in Africa and in deed Zimbabwe where low HIV knowledge levels among adolescents, with majority of them demonstrating limitations regarding comprehensive HIV have been observed in key national studies (e.g. Zimstat, 2016). Further, there were concerns regarding disproportionate access to information, services and care among male and female adolescents in the country, with females being worse off and hence more vulnerable to HIV infection as well as the subsequent effects and outcomes even after accessing care and ART. The study problematized adolescents’ poor adherence and retention in HIV care and treatment initiatives. Against the backdrop of paucity of nationallyrepresentative adolescent HIV data on retention in care, mortality and attrition rates, as well as factors influencing these observed outcome rates, this was considered as an opportunity to contribute to the knowledge gap. Knowing the factors that influence retention in adolescents is important to devise interventions for improving retention outcomes for this population. The aim of the study is to assess the demographic and clinical characteristics of HIV infected adolescents aged 10 – 19 years who were enrolled onto ART during the period January 2012 – March 2017, to report their retention rates, and explore the possible factors associated with retention outcomes at 3, 6, 12, 24, 36, 48 and 60 months.