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Parents as partners in adolescent HIV prevention in Eastern and Southern Africa: an evaluation of the current United Nations' approach.
International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health. 2016 Nov 10; 30(2)The United Nations's (UN) sustainable development goals (SDGs) include the target (3.3) of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. A major challenge in this regard is to curb the incidence of HIV among adolescents, the number two cause of their death in Africa. In Eastern and Southern Africa, they are mainly infected through heterosexual transmission. Research findings about parental influence on the sexual behavior of their adolescent children are reviewed and findings indicate that parental communication, monitoring and connectedness contribute to the avoidance of risky sexual behavior in adolescents. This article evaluates the extent to which these three dimensions of parenting have been factored in to current HIV prevention recommendations relating to adolescent boys and girls. Four pertinent UN reports are analyzed and the results used to demonstrate that the positive role of parents or primary caregivers vis-a-vis risky sexual behavior has tendentially been back-grounded or even potentially undermined. A more explicit inclusion of parents in adolescent HIV prevention policy and practice is essential - obstacles notwithstanding - enabling their indispensable partnership towards ending an epidemic mostly driven by sexual risk behavior. Evidence from successful or promising projects is included to illustrate the practical feasibility and fruitfulness of this approach.