Young adults’ responses to antiretroviral therapy

Date: 1/1/10 - 12/31/12
Principal Researchers: Yeatman, S. Location: Malawi

Sara Yeatman, PhD, MSc, Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral Sciences, University of Colorado Denver, is working on this project between 2010-2012 in Balaka, Malawi. The recent expansion of free access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in many sub-Saharan countries has the potential to transform the meaning of HIV/AIDS in the region. Despite findings that the availability of ART influenced risk perceptions and behaviors among men who have sex with the men in the West, few studies have examined the implications of ART for the generalized epidemics of sub-Saharan Africa. The Young Adults’ Responses to ART (YARA) study is collecting timely and innovative data to examine how improved access to ART influences the meaning and consequences of HIV/AIDS for rural Malawians entering the peak ages of infection. The study is based in Balaka, Malawi to take advantage of Tsogolo la Thanzi (TLT), an ongoing panel study of 2500 young men and women, and because ART has been available at the local district hospital for four years. YARA uses a sequential mixed-method design that includes focus group discussions, two waves of TLT longitudinal survey data, and in-depth interviews with a nested subsample of TLT respondents and their infected household members. Using these data, we address questions of how exposure to ART and the possible existence of HIV treatment optimism influence young adults’ risk perceptions, risk behavior, and future aspirations. This project ended in 2012, but received a no-cost extension until 2013.