Importance: Youths aged 13 to 24 years old living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are less likely than adults to receive the health and prevention benefits of HIV treatments, with only a small proportion having achieved sustained viral suppression. These age-related disparities in HIV continuum of care are owing in part to the unique developmental issues of adolescents and young adults as well as the complexity and fragmentation of HIV care and related services. This article summarizes a national, multiagency, and multilevel approach to HIV care for newly diagnosed youths designed to bridge some of these fragmentations by addressing National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals for people living with HIV.
Design, setting, and participants: Three federal agencies developed memoranda of understanding to sequentially implement 3 protocols addressing key National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals. The goals were addressed in the Adolescent Trials Network, with protocols implemented in 12 to 15 sites across the United States. Outcome data were collected from recently diagnosed youth referred to the program.
Main outcomes and measures: Cross-agency collaboration, youth-friendly linkage to care services, community mobilization to address structural barriers to care, cooperation among services, proportion of all men who have sex with men who tested, and rates of linkage to prevention services.
Results: The program addressed National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals 2 through 4 including steps within each goal. A total of 3986 HIV-positive youths were referred for care, with more than 75% linked to care within 6 weeks of referral, with almost 90% of those youths engaged in subsequent HIV care. Community mobilization efforts implemented and completed structural change objectives to address local barriers to care. Age and racial/ethnic group disparities were addressed through targeted training for culturally competent, youth-friendly care, and intensive motivational interviewing training.
Conclusions and relevance: A national program to address the National HIV/AIDS Strategy specifically for youths can improve coordination of federal resources as well as implement best-practice models that are adapted to decrease service fragmentation and systemic barriers at local jurisdictions.