Background: Beneficial HIV treatment outcomes require success at multiple steps along the HIV Continuum of Care. Youth living with HIV are a key population, and sites in the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN) are known for modeling optimum HIV adolescent care.
Methods: A longitudinal cohort study conducted at 14 network sites across the United States assessed how the later steps of the Continuum of Care were achieved among the youth: engagement, treatment, and viral load (VL) suppression. Youth aged 13-24 who were behaviorally infected with HIV and linked to care at an ATN-affiliated site were eligible to participate.
Results: A total of 467 youth were enrolled and had 1 year of available data. Most were aged 22-24 (57%), male (79%), and black/non-Hispanic (71%). Most used alcohol (81%) and marijuana (61%) in the 3 months before enrollment, and 40% had a history of incarceration. Among this cohort of youth, 86% met criteria for care engagement; among these, 98% were prescribed antiretroviral therapy and 89% achieved VL suppression. Sustained VL suppression at all measured time points was found among 59% with initial suppression. Site characteristics were notable for the prevalence of adherence counseling (100%), case management (100%), clinic-based mental health (93%), and substance use (64%) treatment.
Conclusions: Youth living with HIV in the United States can be successfully treated at health care sites with experience, excellence, and important resources and services. Sustained VL suppression may be an important step to add to the Continuum of Care for youth.