207409 Engaging youth in the organization and delivery of youth-friendly VCT services in Kenya

Monday, November 9, 2009

Andrew J. Riplinger, BS , Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Gary W. Harper, PhD, MPH , Master of Public Health Program, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Leah C. Neubauer, MA , Master of Public Health Program; Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Alexandra G. Murphy, PhD , College of Communication, DePaul University, Chicago, IL

The number of HIV-related services in Kenya has increased, including voluntary counseling and testing (VCT); however, many access barriers remain for at-risk populations, especially youth. Since the majority of new HIV infections occur among youth and roughly 84% of Kenyans living with HIV are unaware of their status, more youth-friendly VCT services are needed. This presentation describes a participatory process engaging rural Kenyan youth in organizing and implementing successful youth-friendly VCT events.


A youth-generated survey revealed desires to have youth-focused VCT services. Ethnographic work with youth and local VCT staff identified HIV-related stigma, lack of awareness, and fear of stigma for accessing VCT services as barriers to HIV testing. In August 2008 youth and health educators co-organized HIV prevention and testing event was coupled with sports and arts activities to attract youth. Utilizing VCT staff from different communities reduced stigma from community members and 130 youth received pre-test counseling and 115 received an HIV test. A follow-up event in December 2008 resulted in 59 youth receiving VCT services.

Lessons Learned

Engaging youth in organizing and delivering VCT services can greatly increase youth participation in HIV testing. Barriers for youth seeking VCT-related services can be addressed through organizing youth-targeted activities that focus on increasing awareness about HIV and by utilizing VCT staff from outside communities.


Public health practitioners should work collaboratively with youth to reduce stigma and raise awareness about HIV to ensure that VCT services effectively accommodate the comprehensive needs of youth

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify barriers for youth when accessing VCT services. 2. Describe how to utilize youth participation to address barriers for youth trying to access VCT services. 3. Describe new approaches to making future VCT services youth-friendly.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Youth Access

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I received my BS in Psychology and a BA in Political Science. I am the International Programs Coordinator for the Adolescent Community Health Research Group at DePaul University and work HIV/AIDS prevetion projects in Kenya with other members of our research team. I am currently working on research related to HIV prevention for youth in Kenya.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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