Guide for Healthcare Professionals Launches on National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day to Support Young People Living with HIV
Advocates for Youth has partnered with young people living with HIV, pediatric and adult care providers, and AIDS service organizations to design Medical Mentorship, a guide focused on supporting young people living with HIV to smoothly transition to and navigate adult care.
Washington D.C. — Young people are the least likely of all age groups to have regular access to medication, and many do not know their HIV status. For those who do, in addition to the risks the virus creates, they now face extra barriers to care since many doctor’s offices are not seeing patients for routine checkups, and many avenues of information and community are now closed due to social distancing requirements. That puts young people who are living with HIV at high risk for the worst outcomes of coronavirus — on top of the challenge of HIV itself. Ensuring young people living with HIV are connected to care has always been critically important – and now is urgent.
Young people living with HIV typically transition from pediatric care into adult care at 25. Without the proper support, they face immense barriers while navigating a healthcare system that can be overwhelming and unforgiving. Across the country, these barriers put young people living with HIV at risk for falling out of essential care.
Medical mentorship programs have been recognized as an effective strategy to support young people living with HIV, by building self-management and other skills aimed at keeping them engaged in care. The Medical Mentorship Toolkit calls for systems that support young people at every level of care, and is a comprehensive tool featuring rubrics, templates, and modules designed to equip providers to better support young people living with HIV.
“We must invest in innovative strategies, such as mentorship, to ensure that all young people living with HIV transition into and remain in adult care as they age out of adolescent services,” said Armonte Butler, Senior Program Manager of LGBTQ Health & Rights at Advocates for Youth.
Today’s young people are the first generation who have never known a world without HIV and AIDS. In the United States, one in four new HIV cases is among young people ages 13 to 24. Yet, stigmatizing abstinence-only programs, inaccessible HIV medication, and outdated criminalizing laws are still peddling dangerous myths and unjustly targeting and stigmatizing people living with HIV.
The Medical Mentorship Toolkit is informed by the #OurHIVPlan bill of rights, and features local and national recommendations to end the HIV epidemic in America including;
- The Right to Live Free From Oppression: Poverty, racism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression all contribute to HIV risk and to quality of treatment and care.
- The Right to Education: Young people have the right to education and skills
- This NYHAAD we declare the NYHAAD Bill of Rights — five demands which must be achieved in order to bring an end to HIV and AIDS stigma.to make informed decisions about their sexual health.
- The Right to Prevention: Young people have the right to condoms, HIV testing, and medication needed to help prevent HIV, and have the right to confidential, affordable, accessible services.
- The Right to Treatment and Care: Young people are at risk of not receiving medication regularly enough to have their viral load suppressed. We must ensure that all youth have access to accessible and affordable HIV treatment.
- The Right to Live Without Criminalization, Discrimination and Stigma: Young people living with HIV have the right to freedom and dignity. Laws which criminalize HIV are founded in ignorance and serve only to divert attention and resources from real strategies to end the epidemic.
“This toolkit will help eliminate existing barriers between young people living with HIV and their providers, by offering a guide and resources that support young people in accessing needed services during these vulnerable times. It is our hope that this toolkit will bridge the gap to staying retained in care while allowing providers to strengthen their relationship with young people.” said Laurenzo Surrell-Page, Empowering Positive Youth Program Mentor/Peer Navigator at RAIN, Inc.
Development of the Medical Mentorship for Young People Living with HIV: Toolkit & Guide was supported by ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action for Youth (PAFY) initiative, which supports mentorship, leadership and workforce development to empower youth living with HIV with the tools, networks, choices and resources they need to navigate into and stay engaged in adult care.