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Int J Womens Health. 2017 Sep 28;9:727-737. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S142232. eCollection 2017.

Let us fight and support one another: adolescent girls and young women on contributors and solutions to HIV risk in Zambia.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA.
2
Department of Pediatrics, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia.

Abstract

In Zambia, adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) are disproportionately affected by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), social, cultural and economic factors making them particularly vulnerable. This study was designed to understand the context in which AGYW are at risk and to identify perceived drivers of the epidemic and potential strategies to reduce HIV risk. Focus group discussions were conducted with AGYW in Zambian districts with the highest HIV prevalence from February through August 2016. The focus group guide addressed HIV risk factors and strategies for HIV prevention in AGYW. Focus group discussions were recorded, translated and transcribed, themes identified and responses coded. Results suggest that gender inequality undermined potentially protective factors against HIV among AGYW. Poverty and stigmatization were major barriers to accessing available HIV prevention services as well as primary risk factors for HIV infection. Sponsorship to support AGYW school attendance, programs for boys and girls to foster gender equality and financial assistance from the government of Zambia to support AGYW most in need were proposed as strategies to reduce HIV risk. Results highlight the utility of using community-based research to guide potential interventions for the affected population. Future research should explore the use of multilevel interventions to combat HIV among AGYW.

KEYWORDS:

HIV; Zambia; adolescent girls; prevention; sub-Saharan Africa; women

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