Principal Investigator: Winfred (Winnie) Luseno, PhD.
Co-Investigator: Adam Gilbertson, DPhil.
Kenya has high rates of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV, large numbers of adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV), and elevated adolescent fertility rates. Stigma, undisclosed HIV status, and lack of social support are key barriers to engaging in prevention of MTCT (PMTCT) services in this population. Addressing barriers to disclosure and social support may mitigate harmful effects of HIV and pregnancy stigmas on health outcomes. Growing evidence highlights the promise smartphone-delivered digital interventions hold for facilitating HIV disclosure and improving treatment adherence among U.S. youth living with HIV, and preventing HIV and improving communication with parents among Kenyan youth. However, digital interventions to address the effects of stigma have not been explored among pregnant ALHIV. This R21 seeks to address this knowledge gap. The project’s specific aims are to: (1) Develop and evaluate a digital intervention for pregnant unmarried ALHIV aged 15-19 to increase awareness of stigma and its consequences; improve disclosure self-efficacy and skills; and facilitate enlistment of family caregivers as social support allies to enhance uptake of PMTCT services; and (2) Identify acceptable approaches to increase awareness about stigma and enhance skills in communication and provision of social support among family caregivers. Joined in this effort are colleagues affiliated with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), the 3C Institute, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health. This R21 is co-funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center (NIH/FIC) and Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NIH/NICHD).