Participants during the sexual and reproductive healthcare training in Ho Chi Minh City
TREAT Asia held its first training session for clinicians on sexual and reproductive healthcare for adolescents and young women living with HIV in December 2014 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Similar trainings will be held in Cambodia and Indonesia in February and March. Globally, over 25% of people living with HIV are under the age of 24; however, pediatricians and adult healthcare providers are often not trained to meet the often complex sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents.
“During the transition to adulthood, adolescents experience biological and psychological changes as they move towards independence, and for some this includes risk-taking behaviors,” said Phiangjai Boonsuk, TREAT Asia education project manager. “Therefore, it is important for healthcare providers who care for adolescents and young women living with HIV to understand their needs so they can help them make better and more informed decisions about relationships, sex, and contraception.” Each training in the series is conducted in the local language, and TREAT Asia collaborated with its network sites in the host countries to ensure the content fit local cultural contexts.
Thirty participants from 20 healthcare facilities and institutions attended the Ho Chi Minh City training. The sessions included an overview of reproductive and contraceptive options, HIV’s impact on adolescents’ physical and mental health, and information on how to counsel young women living with HIV as they make reproductive and contraceptive choices. Because many perinatally infected young people have difficulty transitioning from pediatric to adult care and are at high risk of dropping out of care, the physicians discussed the idea of opening an adolescent HIV clinic catering specifically to young peoples’ unique mental and physical needs.
“I really appreciate that TREAT Asia arranged this very useful training in Ho Chi Minh City,” said Dr. Pham Ngoc Thanh, from the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, who gave the presentation on counseling adolescents. “The training truly reached clinicians who work with HIV-infected patients, and it offered a great opportunity for both pediatricians and obstetrician-gynecologists to gather and exchange points of view.” Dr. Thanh and several other participants stated that they plan to pass along the training resources to other healthcare providers at their institutions.
In addition, TREAT Asia and the Faculty of Medicine, University of Health Sciences, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, will co-host a three-hour seminar for over 100 medical students in February to increase their awareness and knowledge of the sexual and reproductive healthcare needs and rights of women living with HIV. The goal is for university medical faculty to continue using the seminar materials to train future students.