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AIDS Care. 2018 Sep;30(9):1135-1143. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2018.1455957. Epub 2018 Apr 1.

Can family-centered programing mitigate HIV risk factors among orphaned and vulnerable adolescents? Results from a pilot study in South Africa.

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a Highly Vulnerable Children Research Center , Tulane University School of Social Work , New Orleans , LA , USA.
b Department of Psychology , University of Pretoria , Pretoria , South Africa.


Let's Talk is a structured, family-centered adolescent HIV prevention program developed for use in South Africa using key components adapted from programs successfully implemented in the US and South Africa. It is designed to address individual HIV transmission risk factors common among orphaned and vulnerable adolescents, including elevated risk for poor psychological health and sexual risk behavior. These efforts are accentuated through parallel programing to support caregivers' mental health and parenting skills. Twelve Let's Talk groups, each serving approximately 10 families, were piloted by two local community-based organizations in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces, South Africa. Face-to-face interviews were conducted among participating caregivers and adolescents at baseline and three months post-intervention to explore the potential effects of the program on intermediate outcomes that may support HIV preventive behavior. Specifically, generalized estimation equations were used to estimate average change on HIV prevention knowledge and self-efficacy, caregiver and adolescent mental health, and family dynamics. Among the 105 adolescents and their 95 caregivers who participated in Let's Talk and completed both surveys, statistically significant improvements were found for adolescents' HIV and condom use knowledge as well as condom negotiation self-efficacy, but not sexual refusal self-efficacy. Both caregivers and adolescents demonstrated significantly better mental health at post-test. Adolescent/caregiver connection and communication about healthy sexuality also improved. These preliminary results highlight the potential of HIV prevention interventions that engage caregivers alongside the vulnerable adolescents in their care to mitigate adolescent HIV risk factors. A more rigorous evaluation is warranted to substantiate these effects and identify their impact on adolescents' risk behavior and HIV incidence.


Adolescent; HIV prevention; South Africa; mental health; orphans and vulnerable children

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