05 Jul, 2023
Between the months of April and May 2023, Penta hosted advisory group meetings where young people between the ages of 15 and 19 from South Africa, Argentina, the United Kingdom and Thailand, were invited to share their experiences and knowledge of long-acting injectable antiretrovirals at local in-person consultation workshops. The young people all had recent experience in paediatric HIV care and joined in the discussions about the acceptability, challenges and solutions of adopting and using long-acting injectables for themselves and their peers and how this could support or impact their transition to adult care. Their experiences were collected as part of the Long Acting Advisory Group (LAAG) project, funded by ViiV Healthcare.
Following the workshops, each group selected two peers who went on to represent them in the global digital meeting where they had the opportunity to give direct feedback to ViiV representatives on the findings of the group sessions. Some of the findings highlighted common problems and challenges that are faced by young people globally. Most significantly, this meeting highlighted the importance of engaging young people as they are an integral element in gathering information about them as they are the experts about being young.
The adolescents we engaged with were very knowledgeable of the fact that adherence to their treatment is crucial to keeping HIV undetectable. But taking medicines every day can be a major challenge for children, adolescents and young people because of the stigma, pill burden and side effects, which can make adherence difficult. ViiV Healthcare is currently working on a long-acting injectable antiretroviral administered as two injections, every two months which could mean the ability to stop taking pills every day and would make a big difference for people living with HIV. As it is well known, we live in an era of great advances in antiretroviral therapy, the next best thing for people living with HIV would be to have a long-acting injectable whilst waiting for a possible cure.
Written by Lungile Jafta, Penta Youth Engagement Consultant