YouthLens No. 21: Integrating reproductive health and HIV services for youth

YouthLens No. 21: Integrating reproductive health and HIV services for youth

Research and resources on good practice in youth-friendly sexual health services

Often health services for young people address contraception or prevention of HIV/STIs, but not both. Would an integrated approach to sexual health services reduce unwanted pregnancies and HIV/STIs among young people? This briefing paper reports on the findings of a series of studies that examined this question. The research examined the extent of service integration and the unmet need for different services in various types of delivery models.

The study findings validate the need for integrated services for youth and more information about contraception, targeting those at greatest risk of pregnancy or HIV infection:

  • studies of HIV voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services in Tanzania and Haiti found a high level of unmet need for contraception among VCT clients
  • a study of young people at antenatal care clinics in Kenya looked at the extent to which contraceptive information and services were integrated into the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programmes. It found that only 28 percent of the young group of clients (ages 15 to 19) reported that the provider had discussed contraceptive methods with them, and 94 percent had never used modern contraception
  • in the Dominican Republic, a study investigated the delivery of post-abortion care for young people. It found that a majority had no post-abortion care training, one-third had blaming or judgmental attitudes towards the patients, one-quarter did not assess these youth’s future pregnancy intentions, and one-quarter did not tell clients how soon they could become pregnant again.

The paper suggests that the problems identified could be overcome through provision of integrated ‘youth-friendly’ sexual health services that deliver both contraception and STI/HIV prevention counseling and services. It offers examples of the successful development of such initiatives in Uganda and Mozambique, and provides references and links to resource guides to good practice in the delivery of sexual health services for young people.

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