PATA 2015 Youth Summit

The Youth Summit, held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 27 – 30 June 2016, was able to provide a dynamic and productive learning and networking platform for adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) and young people who are engaged as peer supporters.

Designed and led by youth, the Youth Summit created a safe space for youth dialogues, peer-to-peer workshops, interactive sessions, skills and team-building exercises for peer supporters, their clinic supervisors and national network representatives. Twentyeight health facilities were represented, with 100 participants attending from Burundi, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. New and emerging evidence suggests that peer-to-peer engagement may provide an effective mechanism for psychosocial support and improved levels of treatment adherence and health service engagement for ALHIV.

 Engaging peer supporters as catalysts for effective linkage to care, with ALHIV delivering child- and adolescent-focused activities and psychosocial support provides much needed capacity to over-stretched health facilities. HIV-infected adolescents and youth serve as positive role models for younger children and adolescents as they have first-hand knowledge and experience of the challenges younger children and adolescents face in accessing and remaining in care.

 PATA recognises the critical role that YPLHIV may play in advancing the paediatric and adolescent HIV response. In this context, and with a 9-year track record of developing this capacity, PATA is uniquely placed to support, develop, incubate, investigate and share learning from its peer support model as a promising practice in the field of engaging YPLHIV.

Whilst the contribution of ALHIV engaged as facility-based peer supporters is increasingly acknowledged, the voices of peer supporters are seldom heard and their efforts often go unrecognised. There is an urgent need to develop and document operational evidence on peer-led interventions at health facilities, as well as better understand how peer supporters can be assisted and integrated into the development, delivery and monitoring of adolescent-friendly health services (AFHS) that affect them.

Moreover, greater attention and investment must be made in building resilience amongst peer supporters, who as YPLHIV seek to further explore and expand their opportunities for personal growth and development, economic and social security, health and wellbeing.

Read Summit report here