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1.
Psychol Health Med ; : 1-26, 2022 Oct 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2070008

ABSTRACT

Growing evidence documents the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescents in East and Southern Africa. We present and explore the longitudinal health and development-related priorities and challenges of adolescent advisors in South Africa and Kenya, including prior to, and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings were co-generated with adolescent advisors in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa (n=15, ages 18-22 in 2019) and Kisumu, Kenya (n=16, ages 10-14 in 2020). Prior to COVID-19, adolescent advisors engaged in a participatory exercise to share and explore their health and development-related priorities and challenges in 2019 and 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, members of the same groups shared their experiences, challenges and coping strategies in semi-structured telephone interviews (Eastern Cape: n=14, aged 19-23; Kisumu n=12, aged 11-16) and group-based remote participatory social media activities (n=27 activities with n=12 advisors, Eastern Cape). We thematically analysed COVID-19 activities, considering them alongside pre-pandemic priorities and challenges. Many of the health and development-related priorities and challenges identified prior to COVID-19 remained issues of concern during COVID-19. These included education; victimization and violence; teenage pregnancy; substance use; household tension, conflict and inadequate family and caregiver support; health and medication concerns (South Africa) and water and food shortages (Kenya). Other issues such as financial insecurity, mental health, and crime were strong themes that emerged during COVID-19, which were not directly reported as priorities prior. Although almost all of adolescent advisors' most pressing pandemic-related challenges were also priorities for them prior to COVID-19, these issues were often discussed as new, and caused by the onset of COVID-19. While demonstrating how COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities, we also suggest that the pandemic may have brought about a new way for adolescents to make sense of, and articulate pre-existing challenges.

2.
Psychol Health Med ; : 1-12, 2022 Aug 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2004892

ABSTRACT

While substantial research has emerged from the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as from studies with adolescent populations, there has been a dearth of research focused in South Africa on the context-specific experiences of healthcare workers (HCWs) and the adolescents and young people (AYP) to whom they provide services. This article documents the experiences of provision and receipt of HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services during the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of South African HCWs (n = 13) and AYP (n = 41, ages 17-29). Findings highlight several barriers to accessing comprehensive HIV and SRH services during the pandemic including lockdown-related mobility restrictions (reported by HCWs), prioritisation of COVID-19 above other healthcare needs, longer health facility waiting times, poor treatment by HCWs (reported by AYP), discomfort and perceived stigma from having to queue outside health facilities, and fear of contracting COVID-19 (reported by both groups). While HCWs reported that HIV and SRH services continued to be available during the pandemic, AYP described seeking these services - such as long-acting reversible contraception, check-ups for their babies and medical refills - and being told that because they were not considered emergency cases, they should return on a different date. By capturing diverse experiences and perspectives from both groups, our findings reiterate the growing call for health system investments to strengthen the delivery of adolescent services, including investing in appropriate channels of communication between young people and their healthcare providers (for example, through adolescent peer supporters or community healthcare workers) and differentiated models of service delivery (for example, multi-month ART refills and community pick-ups). Closing the gap between the experiences and needs of adolescents and the healthcare workers who serve them may support young people and HCWs in buffering against changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

3.
Lancet Child Adolesc Health ; 6(8): 582-592, 2022 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1972409

ABSTRACT

Adolescents are a crucial generation, with the potential to bring future social and economic success for themselves and their countries. More than 90% of adolescents living with HIV reside in sub-Saharan Africa, where their mental health is set against a background of poverty, familial stress, service gaps, and an HIV epidemic that is now intertwined with the COVID-19 pandemic. In this Series paper, we review systematic reviews, randomised trials, and cohort studies of adolescents living with and affected by HIV. We provide a detailed overview of mental health provision and collate evidence for future approaches. We find that the mental health burden for adolescents living with HIV is high, contributing to low quality of life and challenges with adherence to antiretroviral therapy. Mental health provision is scarce, infrastructure and skilled providers are missing, and leadership is needed. Evidence of effective interventions is emerging, including specific provisions for mental health (eg, cognitive behavioural therapy, problem-solving, mindfulness, and parenting programmes) and broader provisions to prevent drivers of poor mental health (eg, social protection and violence prevention). We provide evidence of longitudinal associations between unconditional government grants and improved mental health. Combinations of economic and social interventions (known as cash plus care) could increase mental health benefits. Scalable delivery models include task sharing, primary care integration, strengthening families, and a pyramid of provision that differentiates between levels of need, from prevention to the care of severe disorders. A turning point has now been reached, from which complacency cannot persist. We conclude that there is substantial need, available frameworks, and a growing evidence base for action while infrastructure and skill acquisition is built.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Adolescent , HIV Infections/epidemiology , Humans , Mental Health , Pandemics , Quality of Life
4.
J Int AIDS Soc ; 25(4): e25904, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1802359

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: South Africa's progress towards the 95-95-95 goals has been significantly slower among adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV), among whom antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence, retention in care and viral suppression remain a concern. After 2 years of living with COVID-19, it is important to examine the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic on healthcare resources, access to HIV services and availability of support structures, to assess their impact on HIV care for ALHIV. DISCUSSION: The COVID-19 response in South Africa has shifted healthcare resources towards combatting COVID-19, affecting the quality and availability of HIV services-especially for vulnerable populations, such as ALHIV. The healthcare system's response to COVID-19 has threatened to diminish fragile gains in engaging ALHIV with HIV services, especially as this group relies on overburdened public health facilities for their HIV care. Reallocation of limited health resources utilized by ALHIV disrupted healthcare workers' capacity to form and maintain therapeutic relationships with ALHIV and monitor ALHIV for ART-related side effects, treatment difficulties and mental health conditions, affecting their ability to retain ALHIV in HIV care. Prevailing declines in HIV surveillance meant missed opportunities to identify and manage opportunistic infections and HIV disease progression in adolescents. "Lockdown" restrictions have limited access to healthcare facilities and healthcare workers for ALHIV by reducing clinic appointments and limiting individual movement. ALHIV have had restricted access to social, psychological and educational support structures, including national feeding schemes. This limited access, coupled with reduced opportunities for routine maternal and sexual and reproductive health services, may place adolescent girls at greater risk of transactional sex, child marriages, unintended pregnancy and mother-to-child HIV transmission. CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent HIV care in South Africa is often overlooked; however, ART adherence among ALHIV in South Africa is particularly susceptible to the consequences of a world transformed by COVID-19. The current structures in place to support HIV testing, ART initiation and adherence have been reshaped by disruptions to health structures, new barriers to access health services and the limited available education and psychosocial support systems. Reflecting on these limitations can drive considerations for minimizing these barriers and retaining ALHIV in HIV care.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Reproductive Health Services , Adolescent , Anti-Retroviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control , Female , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV Infections/epidemiology , HIV Infections/psychology , Humans , Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical , South Africa/epidemiology
5.
Glob Public Health ; 16(6): 947-963, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1145128

ABSTRACT

Consequences of COVID-19 pandemic responses have included exacerbated poverty, food insecurity and state and domestic violence. Such effects may be particularly pronounced amongst adolescents and young people living in contexts of precarity and constraint, including in South Africa. However, there are evidence gaps on the lived experiences of this group. We conducted telephonic semi-structured interviews with adolescents and young people in two South African provinces (n = 12, ages 18-25) in April 2020 to explore and document their experiences, challenges and coping strategies during strict COVID-19 lockdown. Participants described indirect effects of COVID-19 including food insecurity, lost livelihoods and changes to social service provisions such as municipal electricity services and sanitation. Psychosocial stressors related to uncertainty over education and work futures were also discussed. The aforementioned challenges were particularly present with young parents, 'working poor' participants, and those with pre-existing mental health challenges. Participants demonstrated excellent COVID-19 transmission and prevention knowledge, showing that they had received and correctly interpreted public health messaging. Despite this, many simultaneously held non-scientific COVID-19 beliefs. Engaging a socio ecological framework, findings demonstrate how the indirect effects of COVID-19 may exacerbate underlying multi-layered vulnerabilities for adolescents and young people living in contexts of precarity and constraint.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Life Change Events , Social Isolation/psychology , Adolescent , Adult , Anxiety , Depression , Female , Frustration , Humans , Interviews as Topic , Male , Qualitative Research , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa , Young Adult
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