Sub-Saharan Africa has been hit harder by the HIV/AIDS pandemic than any other region of the world, and children under age eighteen represent one-third of all new HIV infections occurring there annually. While HIV prevention efforts targeting youth are well established, few prevention programmes provide comprehensive care and support services. One reason for this is that prevention messages are often targeted only at older adolescents, and care and support activities typically emphasise the needs of younger children. By expanding prevention activities to younger children, and expanding care and support activities to older adolescents, more holisitic, and truly integrated programmes can be developed which address the common factors which make children of any age particularly vulnerable to HIV infection, namely: inadequate access to health care and unstable familial and social environments. This paper reviews evidence of the potential impact of care and support activities on HIV prevention among youth, and presents a conceptual framework for the development of comprehensive, effective, integrated HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes tailored to the specific needs of youth.
Keywords: AIDS; intervention; psycho-social support
(Af J AIDS Res: 2002 1(2): 143-149)