Targeted Interpersonal Communication for Adolescent Girls and Young Women for Integrated Maternal Health Services in Uganda: Evidence from DREAMS Project 2016-2017
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Background Uganda has the highest population of young people below 18 years in the world. Among these adolescents, contraceptive use is still low at 11% compared to the unmet need (30.4%) for family planning services. This increases the risk of HIV transmission as well as unwanted teenage pregnancies. Uganda embraced the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDSfree, Mentored, and Safe women (DREAMS) initiative together with implementing partners to address the these challenges. Objective: Within the DREAMS initiative, USAID/Communication for Health Communities (CHC) focuses on the provision of technical support and spearheading Social Behavioural Change Communication Interventions (SBCC). Methods: CHC supported development of participatory health communication materials and tools and the training of peers on communication skills. CHC worked with village health teams, girl mentors, and implementing partners to reach these adolescents using an integrated IPC approach which included home visits, one-on-one dialogues, small group discussions, and youth bashes. During the intervention, we provided information, motivation and referral to HIV, family planning and other reproductive health services. Results: A total of 16,732 adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) were reached during IPC activities between April 2016 and December 2017. A total of 96,975 AGYWs received HIV testing tested during the project implementation July 2016 to June 2017. The positivity rate reduced from 3% to 2% for AGs and 6% to 5 % for YWs. This was attributed to the HIV prevention packages offered and SBCC pro-health behaviours of condom use and reduction in multiple concurrent partners. Female condom usage increased by 20% among AGs and by 95% among YWs. Conclusion: Interpersonal communication was key in promoting behavioural change for the adolescent girls and young women in the DREAMS initiative.
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