Lived experiences of perinatally HIV infected youth; the case of Zewditu memorial hospital; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa Universty


Background: HIV continued to be a major global public health issue for the past three decades. Despite the relative control of the epidemic, about one million people had died globally from HIV related cause in 2016 only. In Ethiopia there were 665,116 people who were aged 15 years and above living with HIV in 2017. Youth who acquired HIV from their mothers at birth is an emerging threat for HIV transmission unless control measures are taken before their sexual debut. Learning experiences of these youth is important to address their needs and control HIV transmission. However much has not done in this area. We therefore conducted this study with the aim of exploring the lived experiences of youth who had acquired HIV perinatally to contribute to the HIV prevention and control program. Methods: We conducted a qualitative study using a phenomenological approach from March to May 2018 at Zewditu Memorial Hospital, Addis Ababa. We purposively selected 16 youth who had acquired HIV vertically. A semi structured interview guide was used to collect data through in- depth interviews. Data were audio taped, transcribed verbatim and translated to English by the principal investigator. The translated data were read and re-read several times and then coded using Open Code version 4.02 software. Basic principles were followed to assure trustworthiness. Study participants were recruited based on their willingness after informed consent and assent. Following interpretative phenomenological analysis; results are summarized with emerged themes. Findings: Seven males and nine females aged 16 to 22 years participated in the study. Youth in this study feel that they got the disease that they do not deserve to have it. They believed that they benefit more from not disclosing their status than disclosing to people around them because of fear of stigma and discrimination. Half of them have ever had sexual relations and four girls had unprotected sex starting at age of 17-18. Among those, two had unprotected sex with positive partners, one with a partner who has a negative sero-status while the other one did not know the status of the partner. Most are interested to have love mate of the same health status, wish to have purposeful life and play their role in prevention of HIV. Conclusion: this study found that youth with perinatally acquired HIV had engaged in sexual relation with youth who had both positive and negative-sero-status. In addition, the fact that they do not want to disclose their status because of fear of stigma and discrimination also indicated the need for more work in the HIV prevention program. Challenges related to disclosure, pill-load and fear of what the future will bring in their life should be closely followed to their future life.



Youth, Perinatally acquired HIV, Mother to child Transmission, phenomenology