To be effective, HIV programmes should be responsive to the unique needs of diverse groups of infected adolescents. We highlight a range of adolescent perspectives on HIV services, including those who acquired HIV perinatally or sexually and those who were either in care, had dropped out of care, or had never enrolled in care. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 29 adolescents (aged 15-19) and 14 caregivers in western Kenya. Data were analysed using a descriptive analytical approach. Adolescents who were successfully linked had a supportive adult present during diagnosis; tested during hospitalisation or treatment for a recurrent or severe illness; and initiated treatment soon after diagnosis. Barriers to retention included side effects from HIV drugs, pill burden, and limited access to clean water and nutritious food. Support in family, school, and health facility environments was key for diagnosis, linkage, and retention. We make recommendations that may improve adolescent engagement in HIV services.
Keywords: Kenya; social support; testing; treatment; youth.