Youth-friendly services and differentiated models of care are needed to improve outcomes for young people living with HIV

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Outcomes among young people living with HIV (YPLWH) remain disturbingly poor. We summarize recent research on youth-friendly services (YFS) and adolescent-specific differentiated care models, which may improve outcomes across the HIV care continuum for this vulnerable population. We further emphasize unique complexities that characterize the transition from childhood through adolescence to adulthood which must be considered when caring for YPLWH.

Recent findings

Studies suggest that YFS may improve outcomes in some but not all steps of the HIV care continuum. However, generalizability is compromised by the limited numbers of studies, frequent use of nonequivalent comparison groups, small sample sizes and/or short follow-up. Reproducibility and scale-up are further hindered by lack of insufficient details on operational aspects of YFS, an effective minimum package of YFS and contextual factors that may facilitate adoption of YFS. Differentiated models of care for YPLWH are in very early stages of development with positive preliminary outcomes, but most pilot models focus only on stable patients on antiretroviral therapy.

Summary

YFS and adolescent-specific differentiated models of care are needed to improve health outcomes among YPLWH, but scale-up should be guided by rigorous research and address the unique complexities that characterize the vulnerable period of adolescence.

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