Integrated care delivery for HIV prevention and treatment in adolescent girls and young women in Zambia: Protocol for a cluster-randomized controlled trial
Background: Among countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Zambia has one of the highest incidences of HIV. Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) are a particularly affected group because of their social and economic vulnerability. Objective: The goal of this study is to test a multilevel package of interventions at the community and health system levels in Zambia in order to connect AGYW with a source of regular care, which will in turn allow for sustainable, successful implementation of regular HIV testing and adherence to antiretroviral treatment. Methods: We will adapt prior tools to create the SHIELD (Support for HIV Integrated Education, Linkages to Care, and Destigmatization) intervention to educate and empower Zambian AGYW of 10-24 years of age and their families and to create community-based youth clubs to foster peer support. We will also develop integrated wellness care clinics to offer a youth-friendly environment that provides tailored clinical services. We will perform formative research, including focus groups and in-depth interviews, among AGYW, caregivers, and stakeholders to help inform the development and tailoring of the interventions. A cluster-randomized controlled trial will be implemented in Lusaka, with six clinic catchment areas randomized into three groups: zones with integrated wellness care clinics and SHIELD intervention, zones with only SHIELD intervention, and control zones with no intervention. We will assess HIV testing among the HIV-negative or unknown (HIV-/u) cohort, and retention in care along with viral load suppression will be evaluated in the HIV-positive (HIV+) cohort. We will use in-depth interviews and surveys to collect staff and stakeholder feedback after the trial. Cost-effectiveness of the interventions and return-on-investment impacts will be quantified using a microsimulation model. Results: Interim results are expected in 2021, and the final results are expected in 2022. If this multilevel intervention is successful in establishing a comprehensive care continuum for HIV-affected AGYW, the Zambian Ministry of Health may advocate for expansion to additional settings to support national scale-up. Conclusions: This integrated service delivery model can also be a platform to implement additional preventive services, so HIV-/u and HIV+ AGYW can receive comprehensive, integrated services.
Subramanian, Sujha, Patrick Edwards, Sarah T. Roberts, Maurice Musheke, and Michael Mbizvo. 2019. "Integrated care delivery for HIV prevention and treatment in adolescent girls and young women in Zambia: Protocol for a cluster-randomized controlled trial," JMIR Research Protocols 8(10).