It is important for both individual- and population-level health that HIV-infected individuals progress through the Care Continuum. However, HIV-infected youth frequently disengage from care during transition from pediatric/adolescent to adult care; only 50% remain in adult care after 1 year. Understanding how providers define and approach a successful healthcare transition can improve the delivery of HIV-related services during critical years of HIV treatment. We conducted 58 staff interviews across 14 Adolescent Trials Network clinics (n = 30) and 20 adult clinics (n = 28). We used the constant comparative method to examine how providers defined and approached youths' successful transition. Providers identified four components critical to successful transition: (1) clinical outcomes (e.g., medication adherence and viral suppression); (2) youth knowing how to complete treatment-related activities (e.g., refilling prescriptions and making appointments); (3) youth taking responsibility for treatment-related activities and their overall health (e.g., "when they stop reaching out to the adolescent [clinic] to solve all their problems."); and (4) youth feeling a connection and trust toward the adult clinic (e.g., "they feel safe here"), with some providers even prioritizing connectedness over clinical outcomes (e.g., "Even if they're not taking meds but are connected [to care], …that's a success."). The identification of key components of successful transition can guide focused interventions and resources to improve youth maintenance in the HIV Care Continuum as they transition to adult care. Identifying what facilitates successful transitions, and the gaps that interventions can target, will help to ensure HIV-infected youth remain healthy across their lifespan.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS; adolescent health; barriers to care; care transition; qualitative; transition success.