Leveraging Social Networks to Improve Retention in Care and Viral Suppression Among HIV-infected Youth in East Africa
The vast majority of HIV-infected youth live in sub-Saharan Africa, where they have lower rates of retention in HIV care and viral suppression than older adults and thus don't realize the full benefits of antiretroviral therapy. Tailored interventions that harness the social support of the social networks of HIV-infected youth may be a powerful approach to improve their treatment outcomes. The proposed research will use social network analysis to understand the role of social networks on retention in care and viral suppression among HIV- infected youth in order to design a network-based intervention to improve these HIV treatment outcomes.
My research aims are: (1) Evaluate the influence of social network attributes on retention in care and viral suppression among youth (15 -24 years) in western Kenya; (2) Investigate longitudinal changes in the social networks of youth before and after HIV diagnosis; and (3) Design and pilot a network-based intervention to improve retention in care and viral suppression among HIV-infected youth based on results from Aim 1 and Aim 2. I will leverage the research infrastructure and sociometric social network data on over 52,000 community members including 17,069 youth age 15 -24 in 12 communities in rural Western Kenya collected at baseline during the ongoing SEARCH (NCT01864603) test-and-treat trial. I will accomplish my training aims through coursework, workshops, and guidance from mentors who are experts in social network analysis, advanced epidemiologic methods, youth in East Africa, HIV treatment strategies, and intervention development.