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Supporting Pregnant Adolescents, Adolescent Mothers, and their Children in Kenya

Pregnant adolescents and young women are highly vulnerable to HIV, with poor HIV testing coverage and high rates of HIV-related mortality and mother-to-child transmission of HIV globally. Kenya, with a high rate of adolescent pregnancy, also has high female adolescent HIV prevalence. This creates parallel risks of unplanned pregnancy and HIV for young women, and of vertical HIV transmission for their infants.

AIDSFree’s Jielimishe Uzazi na Afya (JUA) activity helps HIV-positive and -negative adolescent girls (age 10–19) and their children (age 0–2) to better access critical antenatal and postnatal care services addressing HIV testing, care, and treatment; prevention of mother-to-child transmission; and early childhood development.

 

A mother holds her infant. Photo Credit: EGPAF/Kenya

Photo Credit: EGPAF/Kenya

Jielimishe Uzazi na Afya is Kiswahili, meaning “to take pride in parenthood and health”; the abbreviation JUA means “learn, get enlightened.”

 

Working through community-based organizations, the model has three parts:

  1. Peer-led individual mentoring of pregnant adolescents/mothers on skills needed to access, use, and remain in antenatal and postnatal care, including prevention of mother-to-child transmission services.
  2. Targeted support for caregivers, households, and partners of pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers to address structural barriers to care, decrease stigma and discrimination, and mobilize support.
  3. Supervisory support to ensure a team-based approach grounded in quality assurance.

In 2018, the JUA program trained 166 individuals to serve as members of home visiting teams. These mentors, household facilitators, and supervisors identified and engaged with 960 pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers, enrolling 384 of them in the JUA program.