Publication Type: Journal article
Year: 2022
Author(s): Jane Kelly, Lesley Gittings, Christina Laurenzi, Charné Dee Glinski, Hlokoma Mangqalaza, Nokubonga Ralayo, Nontokozo Langwenya, Lulama Sidloyi, Amanda Mbiko, Babalwa Taleni, Bongiwe Saliwe & Elona Toska
Journal: Psychology, Health & Medicine

Abstract: "While substantial research has emerged from the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as from studies with adolescent populations, there has been a dearth of research focused in South Africa on the context-specific experiences of healthcare workers (HCWs) and the adolescents and young people (AYP) to whom they provide services. This article documents the experiences of provision and receipt of HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services during the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of South African HCWs (n = 13) and AYP (n = 41, ages 17–29). Findings highlight several barriers to accessing comprehensive HIV and SRH services during the pandemic including lockdown-related mobility restrictions (reported by HCWs), prioritisation of COVID-19 above other healthcare needs, longer health facility waiting times, poor treatment by HCWs (reported by AYP), discomfort and perceived stigma from having to queue outside health facilities, and fear of contracting COVID-19 (reported by both groups). While HCWs reported that HIV and SRH services continued to be available during the pandemic, AYP described seeking these services – such as long-acting reversible contraception, check-ups for their babies and medical refills – and being told that because they were not considered emergency cases, they should return on a different date. By capturing diverse experiences and perspectives from both groups, our findings reiterate the growing call for health system investments to strengthen the delivery of adolescent services, including investing in appropriate channels of communication between young people and their healthcare providers (for example, through adolescent peer supporters or community healthcare workers) and differentiated models of service delivery (for example, multi-month ART refills and community pick-ups). Closing the gap between the experiences and needs of adolescents and the healthcare workers who serve them may support young people and HCWs in buffering against changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Citation:  Kelly, J., Gittings, L., Laurenzi, C., Glinski, C.D., Mangqalaza, H., Ralayo, N., Nontokozo Langwenya, Lulama Sidloyi, Amanda Mbiko, Babalwa Taleni, Bongiwe Saliwe & Elona Toska (2022) HIV and SRH healthcare delivery experiences of South African healthcare workers and adolescents and young people during COVID-19, Psychology, Health & Medicine, published online.