Developing health independence

Strategies to develop health independence should be a continual process throughout adolescence. This involves a more sophisticated understanding of HIV infection and the health issues arising from this, including HIV viral loads, CD4+ T counts, ART adherence, implications of antiretroviral drug resistance, and viewing HIV infection as a chronic condition that can be easily controlled by ART. Sexual health should be explored with discussion around contraception, family planning, and post exposure prophylaxis. Adolescents should also be made aware about their right for privacy and confidentiality of their health information. Caregivers should be counselled on ways to foster independence, such as ordering medications and making appointments, individual time with health care staff, and open communication within the family. Encouraging and preparing young people to take responsibility for their own health care may have challenges but emphasising what they will gain from taking an active role in managing their own health, rather than what they might lose, is a useful motivational strategy.[11]