The youth, especially adolescents, bear a large burden of HIV and are increasingly being perceived as the “generation at risk” because of the alarming rates of HIV infection observed in this population. In Kenya, the epidemic among young people is largely invisible to them and to society and hence, sadly, remains largely un-addressed.
Adolescents have very unique needs to those of adults and children. There is therefore an unmet need to improve the quality of health care service delivery to adolescents. Currently no guidelines for preventive services and treatment of HIV in adolescents exist. Most health care service providers lack the capacity to handle HIV infected adolescents. Despite significant progress in the war against HIV, it is clear that intensive, culturally sensitive and youth-friendly approaches must be implemented in order to reach adolescents and ensure appropriate guidance on prevention interventions, identification of at-risk adolescents, early detection and early initiation of effective treatment in this population.
HIV management in adolescents was the greatest gap identified during a comprehensive paediatric HIV management course conducted by Partnership in Advances Care and Treatment -- Centres for Excellence (PACT CoE). The course is part of Continuous Medical Education (CME) regularly conducted for health workers with support from President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and in collaboration with The National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCOP).
The intensive 5 days course was conducted at University of Nairobi, School of Medicine, from 4th to 8th July 2011. Melba Katindi, the Advocacy and Training Officer at KELIN, was the only lawyer attending this training which targets health service providers.
The trainees included staff from Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), Pumwani Hospital and health providers serving the University of Nairobi. The objective of this course is to strengthen the capacity of health care service providers in the quality paediatric HIV management.
The training furnished the participants with up-to-date information regarding HIV epidemiology, related diseases, diagnosis and staging, ARV drugs and therapy, prevention of HIV infection in children, psychosocial care, HIV infected adolescents, commodity management, primary health care in paediatric HIV and Legal and Ethical issues in paediatric HIV management; a module facilitated by KELIN’s Allan Maleche. The visit to the KNH Comprehensive Care Centre (CCC) provided invaluable exposure to an all inclusive set up ideal for paediatric HIV management.
Consequently, KELIN has been able to identify several legal and ethical issues in paediatric HIV management for documentation and further consideration for possible legal and advocacy interventions in the organization’s future projects.