Positive futures: A qualitative study on the needs of adolescents on antiretroviral therapy in South Africa
With the increasing availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy, vertically infected children have a better chance of surviving into adolescence and adulthood. Additionally, sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) remains a problem, and incidence and prevalence among youth remain high. Therefore, HIV-infected adolescents are becoming a more prominent sub-group in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Experience from the developed world indicates that providing effective care and treatment for adolescents poses unique challenges. This study aimed to identify the experiences and needs of adolescents growing up in care or on treatment for HIV in Cape Town, South Africa. Four focus groups interviews were conducted with a total of 26 young people attending an adolescent infectious diseases clinic at a tertiary hospital. Questions explored participant's perceptions on their present and future lives, and their self-identified needs. Focus groups revealed that adolescents viewed their illness negatively, but that social issues such as violence and poverty were also concerns. Despite these stressors, most respondents remained positive about the present and future, and wanted support for achieving their goals. As increasing numbers of HIV-infected children enter adolescence, healthcare providers and communities must find ways to support these young people to transition into adulthood. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.