A new challenge has emerged concerning how to prepare a younger patient population to manage their HIV as a chronic disease. Well-documented research has identified a multitude of commonly occurring risk behaviors, such as substance use and risky sexual activity that can lead to negative health outcomes in YPLH. While these risk behaviors have dramatic implications in terms of negative individual and populationlevel health outcomes, to date, little is known about behaviors YPLH can engage in to promote or protect health (e.g., improving immune function, delaying disease course) beyond taking ARV medicines. Along with reducing transmission risk behaviors in YPLH, there is emerging research to suggest the need to simultaneously encourage healthy lifestyle behaviors among adolescents with HIV and other chronic illnesses.
The foremost health protective behavior for people living with HIV is adherence to medication and medical appointment attendance. A critical component of HIV treatment, regardless of age, is attending quarterly medical appointments to monitor viral load. These visits also provide important opportunities for providers to treat infections, extend reproductive and primary care, and address psychosocial concerns. Despite the significant consequences of not taking medications as prescribed, adequate adherence to ARV (antiretroviral) medications (>95%) is especially challenging for YPLH because of their developmental status (e.g., inconsistent daily routine, not understanding the need to take medication when one feels well).
Last date updated on September, 2014