Youth

There are 1.2 billion people ages 10–19 in the world today. Nine out of 10 young people live in developing countries, where they face profound challenges, such as high rates of early marriage, unintended pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and maternal mortality and morbidity. Young people’s sexual behavior, and their resulting sexual and reproductive health (SRH), is influenced by peers, parents, and other adults in the communities in which they live. As a result, it is essential to involve members of the wider community in SRH programs in order to build an enabling environment for young people to improve their well-being and health. Involving communities also increases the potential to reach youth who are not in school or who are otherwise more at risk (for example, orphans and vulnerable children). Advancing Partners & Communities (APC) recognizes the importance of addressing the unique needs of adolescents as part of a comprehensive approach to strengthening community health systems and programs.

Read more about APC's youth activities [PDF, 326 KB]

Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank

Below are select resources related to key issues within youth.

Multisectoral Approaches

Addressing young people’s lives in a broader context may ultimately have a stronger impact on reproductive health behavior than a narrow focus on sexuality.

The Intersection of Economic Empowerment and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health
May 2013 | Brief

This brief reviews various types of “economic empowerment” approaches, discusses promising programs and talks about next steps for this relatively new topic of the intersection of economic empowerment and youth SRH.

A Framework for Integrating Reproductive Health and Family Planning into Youth Development Programs
December 2011 | Publication

This document, based upon an initial “Planning for Life” Project Launch and Technical Workshop that took place in New Delhi, India in September 2007, provides a strategic framework for youth reproductive health (YRH) and family planning (FP) and its integration into youth development programs.

Married Adolescents

Programs addressing adolescent reproductive health and HIV prevention tend to focus on unmarried youth, but the majority of unprotected sexual activity among adolescent girls in most developing countries occurs within marriage. In some settings, young married girls (ages 15 to 19) have been shown to have higher rates of HIV infection than sexually active unmarried youth of the same ages.

Girls Not Brides
September 2014 | Website

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 350 civil society organizations from over 60 countries working to address child marriage. Members are based throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas and are united by a commitment to end child marriage and enable girls to fulfil their potential.

Marrying Too Young: End Child Marriage
July 2012 | Report

International conventions declare that child marriage is a violation of human rights because it denies girls the right to decide when and with whom to marry. This report is intended to help policymakers prevent this violation of girls’ rights. It summarizes available data and evidence, while offering advice on the many issues involved, and suggests prioritized actions to reduce, and eventually eliminate, child marriage.

Addressing Early Marriage of Young and Adolescent Girls
January 2011 | Brief

This brief is a discussion of five approaches for delaying marriage that also can help girls avoid HIV, other STIs, and early or unintended pregnancy.

Long-Acting and Reversible Contraceptives

Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)—intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants—are safe and appropriate contraceptive methods for most women and adolescents. Expanding access to LARC for young people will drastically reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal and infant morbidity and mortality across the globe.

Characteristics of Kenyan women in a prospective cohort study who continue using subdermal contraceptive implants at 12 months
November 2013 | Journal Article

This article compares baseline characteristics of Kenyan women who continued to use implanted contraceptives at 12 months to those who did not. Note: A subscription is required to view the full document.

Adolescents and Long-Acting Reversible Contraception: Implants and Intrauterine Devices
October 2012 | Committee Opinion

This committee opinion describes the outcome of a study that found that more than two-thirds of females aged 14-20 years chose long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). It also exhorts professionals to use LARC methods as a first-line recommendation for all women and adolescents.

Peer Education

Peer education is a popular approach for promoting HIV prevention and reproductive health among young people. However, the quality of peer education varies. Difficulty in recruiting and retaining peer educators, lack of community support, and poor training and supervision of peer educators can adversely affect a program’s impact. Effective peer education programs require intensive planning, coordination, supervision, and resources.

Evidence-Based Guidelines for Youth Peer Education
October 2014 | Guide

This guide helps readers to develop new, high-quality peer education programs for young people ages 10-24 years and to improve existing programs. Although the focus is on peers working with young people to improve their sexual and reproductive health, these guidelines can be applied more broadly to other types of peer education programs as well. This second edition of the publication provides updated technical content and incorporates information about addressing gender inequality in peer education programs.

Integrated Services

Young people, especially those who are sexually active, need a variety of services, including contraception, HIV counseling and testing, testing and treatment for other sexually transmitted infections, pre- and postnatal care, and postabortion care. Health facilities serving youth often offer one primary service. As a result, young people’s full range of sexual health needs are not addressed. Research shows that there is a strong need for various services in a single setting.

From Roots to Results: Evidence-Based Practices for Integrating Family Planning in HIV Programs
April 2014 | Video

This video summarizes the evidence from FHI 360’s review of 97 resources. FHI 360 identified evidence pertaining to the rationale for integrating family planning and HIV; facilitators of and barriers to successful integration; the impact of integrated FP/HIV services; and recommendations to advance effective delivery of integrated services.

WHO guidance document on HIV Testing and Counselling and Care for Adolescents Living with HIV
November 2013 | Guide

These guidelines provide specific recommendations and expert suggestions — for national policy-makers and program managers and their partners and stakeholders — on prioritizing, planning and providing HIV testing, counselling, treatment and care services for adolescents.

Service delivery characteristics associated with contraceptive use among youth clients in integrated voluntary counseling and HIV testing clinics in Kenya
March 2012 | Journal Article

This journal article explores the facility- and provider-level characteristics that may be associated with same day uptake or intention to use contraception after a voluntary counseling and testing visit, and contraceptive use three months later among youth clients, controlling for client characteristics. Note: A subscription is required to view the full text.

Linking Sexual and Reproductive Health and Gender Programs and Services with Prevention of HIV/STIs
June 2010 | Proposal

This proposal seeks to make a significant contribution to the efforts already underway in several locations to optimize health care, including sexual and reproductive health promotion and care with a gender perspective that explicitly approaches HIV and other STIs as problems requiring immediate attention. The proposal not only stresses the importance of collaboration among programs, services, providers, and community members to better tackle the challenges posed by these issues, but also proposes actions that can lead to a better quality of life for the individual, the family, and the community.

Pregnancy Prevention and Family Planning for Adolescents Living with HIV

According to several studies, unintended pregnancies occur at a very high rate for adolescents living with HIV. Most contraceptive methods can be used by women who are living with HIV, but condoms are recommended to prevent the spread of HIV or reinfection. People who are living with HIV also have the right to have children when they are ready, but it’s very important that they to talk to a doctor about the safest way to conceive. Taking ARVs as prescribed can lower a woman’s chances of passing HIV to her unborn child.

Resources for Adolescents Living with HIV
March 2014 | Brief

This brief provides a list of resources to support communities and health care providers in meeting the unique physical, social, and psychosocial needs – including sexual and reproductive health – of adolescent HIV.

Adolescents Living with HIV in Zambia: An Examination of HIV Care and Treatment and Family Planning
October 2013 | Brief

This brief summarizes key findings of a study to understand the experiences and concerns of adolescents living with HIV in terms of their HIV care and treatment and their sexual and reproductive health.

Improving Adolescent HIV Treatment, Care, Prevention and Family Planning Services Technical Brief
July 2012 | Brief

This technical brief provides an overview of current literature and an analysis of key informant interviews investigating the key challenges and successful approaches to supporting ALHIV, particularly those who are perinatally infected and living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Postabortion Care

Young women are generally more vulnerable than adults to unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and abortion-related complications. Girls and young women also are more likely to face barriers to receiving vital postabortion care (PAC). PAC for all women should include emergency treatment for potentially critical complications of abortion; family planning counseling and services; evaluation and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; and HIV counseling and testing, or appropriate referrals.

Post-abortion care services for youth and adult clients in Kenya: a comparison of services, client satisfaction and provider attitudes
June 2013 | Journal Article

This journal article documents how the receipt of postabortion care varies by client age. Descriptive data were collected from clients, providers, and eight health facilities in Kenya's Central and Nairobi provinces to examine receipt of PAC services by client age, client satisfaction, and provider attitudes. Note: A subscription is required to view the full text.

Meeting the needs of adolescent post-abortion care patients in the Dominican Republic
March 2010 | Journal Article

This journal article aimed to evaluate an intervention whose goal was to improve the counseling and contraceptive uptake of PAC patients, with special attention given to the needs of adolescent patients, in the four public hospitals in the Dominican Republic where PAC services were not being routinely offered. Note: A subscription is required to view the full text.

Mobile Phones and Other Technology

Global mobile phone use is rapidly increasing and a large percentage of mobile phone users are young people. Many programs are capitalizing on their ubiquity as a way to reach young people with important health information, and research is beginning to demonstrate that mobile phones are a feasible means of mass communication for this population.

Evaluating feasibility, reach and potential impact of a text message family planning information service in Tanzania
January 2012 | Journal Article

This journal article’s objective was to evaluate the feasibility, reach, and potential behavioral impact of providing automated family planning information via mobile phones to the general public in Tanzania.

Very Young Adolescents

Studies show that most very young adolescents (ages 10-14) lack the knowledge and skills to reduce associated risks of puberty, including unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Very young adolescents (VYAs) face additional unique challenges such as early marriage, the increased danger of pregnancy, and high vulnerability to sexual violence and coercion.

Investing in very young adolescents' sexual and reproductive health
March 2014 | Journal Article

Since early adolescence marks a critical transition between childhood and older adolescence and adulthood, setting the stage for future SRH and gendered attitudes and behaviors, targeted investment in VYAs is imperative to lay foundations for healthy future relationships and positive SRH. This article advocates for such investments and identifies roles that policy-makers, donors, program designers and researchers and evaluators can play.

Whose turn to do the dishes? Transforming gender attitudes and behaviours among very young adolescents in Nepal
March 2013 | Journal Article

This article focuses on Choices, Save the Children’s curriculum designed to help VYAs explore alternate views of masculinities and femininities, and its impact in Siraha district, Nepal. Research revealed changes in children's gendered attitudes and behavior relating to discrimination, social image, control and dominance, violence, attitudes to girls' education, and acceptance of traditional gender norms, before and after participating in Choices.

Advancing Promising Program and Research/Evaluation Practices for Evidence-based Programs Reaching Very Young Adolescents: A Review of the Literature
September 2010 | Literature Review

This paper reviews and describes research practices and program interventions addressing the SRH of VYAs and identifies promising program components and research/evaluation practices.

CHSS

Preventing Unintended and Unplanned Pregnancy among In-school Youth: An Acceptability and Feasibility Assessment
December 2016 | Assessment

To better understand the feasibility and acceptability of interventions to reduce unintended pregnancy among in-school youth, APC in Uganda conducted a formative assessment in the Lira, Amuru, Oyam, Pader, Agago, and Dokolo districts. 

Below you will find links to resources created by APC and other organizations.

APC Resources

Preventing Unintended and Unplanned Pregnancy among In-school Youth: An Acceptability and Feasibility Assessment
December 2016 | Assessment

To better understand the feasibility and acceptability of interventions to reduce unintended pregnancy among in-school youth, APC in Uganda conducted a formative assessment in the Lira, Amuru, Oyam, Pader, Agago, and Dokolo districts.

CHW Central - A Global Resource For Community Health Workers
April 2016 | Website

CHW Central, launched in 2011, is an online community of practice managed by Initiatives Inc. that provides a forum for online discussions and exchanges with public health professionals and program managers, policy makers and CHWs in the U.S. and across the globe.

Faith Matters: A Christian Approach to Engaging Youth in Family Planning
July 2015 | Brief

In this brief, Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH) discusses a Christian approach to engaging youth in family planning.

"Link Up": Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health Program
June 2015 | Report

This report describes the background, strategy, accomplishments, and conclusions of the HealthKeepers Network's youth sexual and reproductive health (SRH) program.

APC Youth Activities
November 2014 | Summary

APC recognizes the importance of addressing the unique needs of adolescents and youth as part of a comprehensive approach to strengthening community health systems and programs. Read about current APC youth activities in Asia and the Middle East; Nepal; Tanzania; Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname; Uganda; and in building connections with faith-based organizations.

External Resources

Adding It Up: Costs and Benefits of Meeting the Contraceptive Needs of Adolescents
May 2016 | Report

This report from Guttmacher presents comprehensive global and regional analyses of the need for sexual and reproductive health services among adolescents in the developing world, and the costs of providing those services.

Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health of Young People: A Strategic Planning Guide
October 2015 | Brief

Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health of Young People: A Strategic Planning Guide from High Impact Practices (HIP) is intended to lead program managers, palnners, and decision-makers through a strategic process to identify the most effective and efficient investments for improving the sexual and reproductive health of young people.

Adolescent-Friendly Contraceptive Services: Mainstreaming Adolescent-Friendly Elements Into Existing Contraceptive Services
October 2015 | Brief

This new brief from High Impact Practices (HIP) focuses on the elements of AFCS that are typically implemented within a service delivery setting. It describes how mainstreaming AFCS can address key challenges for contraceptive programs, discusses the existing evidence of adolescent-friendly elements, outlines key issues for planning and implementation, and identifies knowledge gaps.

Save the Date: Very Young Adolescent Alliance Webinar
February 2015 | Webinar

On February 18, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. ET, the Very Young Adolescent (VYA) Alliance will be hosting a webinar titled “Investing When It Counts: Partnering with Very Young Adolescents to Improve Sexual and Reproductive Health.” Registration information will be released on Febuary 9, 2015.

Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy
November 2014 | Toolkit

This toolkit provides an overview of adolescent pregnancy, a Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health elearning course, tools, a comprehensive family planning and reproductive health database, and opportunities to share and connect. 

Pages

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides individual and community development and disaster relief in over 120 countries worldwide. ADRA’s community development efforts promote health, provide food and water, and empower children through education. Their disaster relief projects coordinate with local governments to deliver medical care, food, water, and shelter to affected populations.

Physicians for Peace is a non-profit organization that provides training and support to health care teams in underserved areas worldwide. Volunteers work with local health professionals to fill training gaps, introduce vital skill sets, and ensure local health systems have essential equipment and supplies. The organization supports these regions in creating self-sufficient, sustainable systems with improved health outcomes.

The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) supports and strengthens The Salvation Army’s efforts to work hand in hand with communities to improve the health, economic, and spiritual conditions of vulnerable populations worldwide. SAWSO provides HIV/AIDS and community health services, disaster relief, and economic strengthening activities. They also offer seminars to raise awareness and train community members to eliminate human trafficking.

Seva Foundation is an international non-profit organization that supports community outreach and education programs to spread awareness of available eye care services. Seva Foundation’s eye health education programs focus on nutrition, eye injury prevention, and personal hygiene. The foundation has a network of local eye care providers, fieldworkers, female community health volunteers, savings groups, teachers, and others who help spread the word about eye disease prevention and services.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) provides care to Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian refugees. Through the provision of essentials like food and water, medical care, and sanitation, the IRC assists approximately 140,000 Myanmar refugees as well. The organization also provides protection, legal assistance, and resettlement processing for abused women and children.

Columbia University is an American private Ivy League research university located in New York City, New York. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States.

Founded in 1996, UCP Wheels for Humanity increases access to mobility for children, teens and adults with physical disabilities in developing countries. Their goal is to make strategic investments in communities that leverage existing capacities and empower local stakeholders.

Youth Challenge Guyana (YCG) offers young people from Guyana and abroad opportunities to utilize leadership and conflict resolution skills to contribute to community-driven development projects. The program implements projects that build and strengthen the capacity of communities and improve the livelihood of individuals across Guyana.

August 31, 2016 | Article

To achieve middle-income status, Uganda must cut its birth rate sharply and quickly, experts say, as well as foster educational opportunities for adolescent girls.

July 08, 2016 | Announcement

In Uganda, APC is working on youth issues through the scale-up of the Gender Roles, Equality, and Transformation (GREAT) project, an assessment of the feasibility and acceptability of interventions to reduce unintended pregnancy among in-school youth, and the use of mobile phone technology for reproductive health for youth.

August 03, 2015 | Article

APC's grantee, HealthKeepers Network, introduced its youth centered program known as Youth Link Up Program in Ghana to help address the raise in teenage pregnancy and promoting safer sexual practices and increase access to contraceptives for youth.

May 19, 2015 | Event

The Evidence to Action (E2A) Project invites you to a special event—“Fact or Fiction: uptake of long-acting reversible contraceptives among Ethiopian youth,” Friday, May 29, 1-2 pm EST.

February 27, 2015 | Blog

New blog explores APC's Dashboard on Youth Sexual & Reproductive (SRH) Health: Asia & Middle East. Accessible data will facilitate the development of interventions that improve young people’s access to SRH services and enable them to lead healthy and productive lives.

February 25, 2015 | Event

Join USAID on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 from 12:30 – 2:00 pm for a lively discussion and demo of three online tools that aggregate data on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health in Asia, Middle East, and Africa.

July 19, 2014 | General News

The UN General Assembly recently proposed new Sustainable Development Goals that consider economic, social and environmental dimensions to improve people’s lives and protect the planet for future generations. These goals include many that address youth, gender, and sexual and reproductive health.

July 11, 2014 | Blog

In honor of World Population Day, Kate Plourde and Joy Cunningham, Technical Officer and Advisor for APC respectively, address APC's work with youth as part of a comprehensive approach to strengthening community health systems. 

Check back again for related photo galleries or videos.

Guyana School of Agriculture

The Family Awareness Consciousness Togetherness (FACT) program in Guyana helped two sisters, who were made vulnerable by HIV, to break the cycle of poverty and attend university.

Health Workers

WellShare International trained 257 village health team members in Uganda to provide adolescents with adolescent sexual and reproductive health counseling and family planning services.

Photo of Tashana and her aunt.

Tashana Legall was born to a low income family in Guyana and lost both her parents to HIV/AIDS. In 2007, Tashana enrolled in a program for children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV (HKID) at Comforting Hearts. The organization was a source of psychological, nutritional, spiritual and academic support to Tashana for several years. The continued nurturance and support from the staff at CH enabled Tashana to progress at school.

Photo of Vanessa

Nine-year-old Vanessa was diagnosed with viral meningitis after suffering from a very high fever and convulsions. Her aunt heard about the TEAM project and immediately registered her. The TEAM project is implemented through a grant awarded under APC, by World Vision, who will enable more than 1,900 people with disabilities including victims of war, especially women and girls, to attain and maintain maximum independence.

Photo of Shelby

When five-year-old Shelby was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, World Vision's ACCESS (Accelerating Core Competencies for Effective Wheelchair Services and Support) program helped her find the perfect wheelchair, enabling Shelby and her mother to continue living their life in the community.

Photo of Lulia

At 9 years old, Lulia was involved in a terrible accident that put her in a wheelchair. With the help of Motivation Romania Foundation (MRF) services and its Peer Group Training (PGT), Lulia was able to gain the confidence to get her life back on track.