Advancing adolescent and young adult HIV prevention and care and treatment through use of multi-level theories and frameworks: A scoping review and adapted HIV ecological framework


While multi-level theories and frameworks have become a cornerstone in broader efforts to address HIV inequities, little is known regarding their application in adolescent and young adult (AYA) HIV research. To address this gap, we conducted a scoping review to assess the use and application of multi-level theories and frameworks in AYA HIV prevention and care and treatment empirical research. We systematically searched five databases for articles published between 2010 and May 2020, screened abstracts, and reviewed eligible full-text articles for inclusion. Of the 5890 citations identified, 1706 underwent full-text review and 88 met the inclusion criteria: 70 focused on HIV prevention, with only 14 on care and treatment, 2 on both HIV prevention and care and treatment, and 2 on HIV-affected AYA. Most authors described the theory-based multi-level framework as informing their data analysis, with only 12 describing it as informing/guiding an intervention. More than seventy different multi-level theories were described, with 38% utilizing socio-ecological models or the eco-developmental theory. Findings were used to inform the adaptation of an AYA World Health Organization multi-level framework specifically to guide AYA HIV research.


Denison JA, Willis K, DeLong SM, Sievwright KM, Agwu AL, Arrington-Sanders R, Kaufman MR, Prabhu S, Williams AM, Fields EL, Alexander KA, Lee L, Yang C




  • Population(s)
    • Children or Youth (less than 18 years old)
    • General HIV+ population
    • General HIV- population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Prevention
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Linkage/engagement in care
    • Retention in care
    • Treatment
  • Prevention
    • Sexual risk behaviour
    • Education/media campaigns
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


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