ACCEPT is a gender-specific, group-based intervention aimed at addressing factors that impact engagement in care for youth newly diagnosed with HIV, including stigma, disclosure, healthy relationships, substance use, and future life planning. To test the efficacy of ACCEPT, we enrolled 103 youth and randomly assigned 57 to the ACCEPT condition and 46 to a health education control condition (HEALTH). Acceptability ratings were very high for both conditions. Over the 12 months post-intervention, the ACCEPT group was associated with an odds ratio of 2.33 greater likelihood of self-reported use of HIV medications compared to the HEALTH group (OR = 2.33 95% CI 1.29-4.21, p = 0.005) as well as declining viral load over time (- 0.14 (0.07), p = 0.041). The group-based ACCEPT intervention can improve engagement in care with corresponding positive health outcomes among HIV + youth. Despite the efficacy of ARV treatment, behavioral interventions are still valuable to promote engagement in care as well as adherence to medication.
Keywords: Adolescents; HIV; Medication adherence.