Prioritizing SRHR of adolescent girls and young women within HIV treatment and care services in emergency settings: a girl-centered agenda

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19/06/2019 12:00 am

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Extensive documentation exists on a range of negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes and rights violations occurring during humanitarian emergencies. We explore two central questions: Do existing policies, services, and research adequately address the SRH rights, priorities and HIV risks of adolescent girls and young women in emergency settings? What are the missed opportunities for holistically addressing the vulnerabilities experienced by those living with HIV during rapid onset disasters and long term, protracted emergencies? Authors review considerations informing real-time decision making, and highlight missed opportunities to apply a gendered lens in the delivery of AGYW-centered SRHR/HIV services.


A scoping review identified studies on HIV intervention and outcomes in emergency settings, published in the peer-reviewed literature (2002–2017). This exercise was complemented with a desk review of normative guidance, frameworks, and implementation guidelines on HIV and SRH in emergency responses, and by consultations with subject matter experts.


The existing frameworks and guidance pay scant attention to the sexual reproductive health and rights of young women living with HIV (WLHIV), focusing mainly on prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT), antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV testing services, and linkage to treatment services. Applying a gendered sexual and reproductive health lens to the response offers opportunities to identify critical implementation questions, and highlight promising practices, to better tailor current services for AGYW.


A plurality of competing needs crowds out dedicated time and space to effectively integrate HIV and sexual and reproductive health interventions in emergency settings. Political will is required to advance multi-sectoral cooperation, through joint planning, rights-informed learning and integrative responses, and to promote creative solutions for ART continuation, drug supply and HIV testing, treatment and care. Recent advancements in policy and practice would suggest that a more AGYW-centered response is feasible.

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