Are HIV programmes missing the young who need them the most ?

Bobby Ramakant – CNS
Contd from previous issue
“Lot of young people do not want to go for a HIV test because they do not want to be judged by their parents or legal guardians. Also, there are prejudices related to being sexually active as well.” There are punitive laws. For instance, those young people who inject drugs may be reluctant to access harm reduction related health services. We need legal and policy harmonization so that everyone including the young can access the full spectrum of HIV services everywhere, especially those who are at a greater risk.
Privacy and confidentiality
Legal requirement to show government identity cards for accessing range of HIV-related services may deter some young key populations from accessing care. Applesta also points out that most of the HIV services are available during the time when young people may be in school or college or at workplaces. We need HIV services to be available at the time convenient or preferable for those most in need.
Stigma and discrimination still blocks access to care
HIV-related stigma continues to be a barrier in accessing healthcare services. Key populations face compounded stigma and discrimination. “If a healthcare centre is not youth-friendly and not a safe space for the young key populations, then we will not be able to serve most in need as they may be reluctant to opt-in for services,” said Applesta.
Self-stigma or shame is another obstacle which impacts self-acceptance, self-perception, self-efficacy, self-esteem and self-confidence. (To be contd)