Barriers to sexual and reproductive health programming for adolescents living with HIV in Uganda

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



Despite revising their reproductive health policies in line with the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action, a major challenge facing many developing countries is the inability to fully implement the policies owing to lack of funds, bureaucratic delays, and limited awareness among various stakeholders. In some countries, the policies fail to adequately address sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of vulnerable groups. This study examines the barriers to SRH programming for adolescents living with HIV from the perspectives of key stakeholders involved in SRH issues in Uganda. The data are from qualitative interviews conducted in 2007 with 23 key informants from bilateral institutions, government ministries, and civil society organizations. The study findings confirm that policy and programmatic gaps exist in addressing the SRH needs of HIV-positive adolescents. This is attributable to: (1) lack of clear guidelines on how to address the SRH of HIV-positive adolescents; (2) challenges of dealing with adolescent SRH in general; (3) HIV/AIDS treatment, care, and support services that are either pediatric- or adult-oriented; and (4) limited institutional and provider capacity to offer SRH services to HIV-positive adolescents despite recognizing that this is an emerging area that requires intervention. These results suggest the need for: (1) clear guidelines on dealing with SRH of HIV-positive adolescents; (2) establishing transition clinics or youth-friendly corners to cater for the needs of adolescents who cannot fit in either pediatric or adult clinics; and (3) providing training and reorientation on SRH of HIV-positive adolescents to service providers/counsellors.