High treatment drop out among HIV positive adolescents

  • 12 January, 2019

AIDS related illness is the leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24 in sub-Saharan Africa including Lesotho, and the second leading cause globally, Avert has revealed.

According to the Avert report, new global analysis draws attention to the high rate of adolescents living with HIV who are dropping out of treatment. It states that the study, published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, analysed the records of more than 61,000 adolescents aged 10 to 19 in 34 countries and found that 30 percent were lost to follow-up, meaning that they were no longer accessing life-saving treatment during adolescence. The analysis also found 3.9 percent were reported to have died.
Globally, UNAIDS estimates that 1.8 million adolescents are living with HIV and a better understanding of the complex epidemic among this group according to the study is therefore said to be essential for achieving the global 90-90-90 targets for ending AIDS by 2030.
On the other hand the analysis compared outcomes for individuals entering care before the age of 15 which was used as a proxy for infection from mother-to-child and those entering care after the age of 15 that was used as a proxy for those infected during adolescence.
The contrast between these groups was reportedly striking, with both loss to follow-up and incidences of mortality considerably higher in those infected later. Incidences of mortality were 3.9 percent versus 5.4 percent, while loss to follow-up was reported at nearly three times higher among those infected later at 69 percent versus 26 percent.
“Another noteworthy finding was that those entering care between age 10 and 15 were at higher risk of death than those in care before age 10 and this reflects the detrimental effects associated with late diagnoses,” reads Avert’s report.
The analysis meanwhile reflects the complexity of the HIV epidemic among adolescents and highlights the persistent lack of targeted treatment programmes that effectively engage and retain young people in treatment.
Greater prioritization of adolescents for clinical and social support is thus said to be urgently needed in order to close the gap in the HIV response.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger