Despite enormous expansion of HIV testing and treatment services in resource-limited settings, adolescents continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. Lack of access to acceptable HIV testing, counseling, and treatment has been cited as a barrier to HIV care among adolescents. Additionally, health workers tasked with providing adolescent HIV services report feeling inadequately prepared to cope with the needs of this age group.
The SPEED study improves quality and accessibility of HIV care to meet the unique needs of adolescents. SPEED (Simulated Patient Encounters to promote Early Detection) uses patient actors to portray adolescent HIV patients as part of a clinical training intervention. This gives nurses and doctors in Kenya an opportunity to practice their skills diagnosing, caring for, and engaging adolescents living with HIV. The simulated encounters utilize a standardized patient script and provide opportunities for the trained actor and a faculty observer to deliver immediate feedback and support to the clinician.
Simulated patient interactions show great promise as a mechanism for health workers in low-resource settings to improve critical decision-making, patient interaction, and communication skills in working with adolescents. SPEED’s ultimate aim is for this increased provider confidence to in turn increase uptake and retention in adolescent HIV care.
This week, SPEED has been busy training a new group of patient actors in Nairobi, Kenya. Actor training is part of the study’s first year of progress. Led by Global WACh and UW School of Nursing researcher Dr. Pamela Kohler and managed by Dr. Kate Wilson, SPEED’s interventions and analyses will be conducted over the next four years.