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

Authors Butts SA, Parmley LE, Alcaide ML, Rodriguez VJ, Kayukwa A, Chitalu N, Weiss SM, Jones DL

Received 20 May 2017

Accepted for publication 21 July 2017

Published 28 September 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 727—737


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

Stefani A Butts,1 Lauren E Parmley,1 Maria L Alcaide,1 Violeta J Rodriguez,1 Annette Kayukwa,2 Ndashi Chitalu,2 Stephen M Weiss,1 Deborah L Jones1

1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA; 2Department 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, sub-Saharan Africa, prevention, adolescent girls, women, Zambia

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