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Understanding Risk and Protective Factors for HIV Infection Among Adolescent Mothers in South Africa

Dornsife researchers at conference in London
Pictured (l to r): Luwam Gebrekristos, project coordinator at Mentoring Adolescent Mothers at School project, and Victoria Kontor, research assistant, and Ali Groves, PhD, MHS, an assistant professor at Dornsife

August 7, 2019

A Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) team, led by Ali Groves, PhD, MHS, an assistant professor in DSPH’s department of Community Health and Prevention, presented new research on protecting young mothers from HIV infection at the July 2019, AIDS Impact Conference in London.

Working with DSPH alumni Luwam Gebrekristos, a project coordinator for Groves’s Mentoring Adolescent Mothers at School (MAMAS) project, and Victoria Kontor, a research assistant, the group presented quantitative and qualitative findings of two studies conducted in Durban, South Africa.

Gebrekristos presented research showing that adolescent mothers who experience intimate partner violence during pregnancy are at a higher risk for sexually transmitted infections after giving birth.

Kontor presented research describing how resilience helps teen mothers return to school after childbirth. She found that adolescent mothers with internal motivation, access to money and resources such as a Child Support Grant (government financial support for mothers and dependent children), as well as strong relationships with family and friends, were most resilient and therefore most likely to return to school after having a child.

The work is supported by Groves’s $1.4 million dollar Determined Resilient Empowered Aids-free Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) grant, funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Research, managed by the JSI Research and Training Institute.

“Our next steps will be to continue work aimed at reducing HIV risk among adolescent mothers in South Africa, by preventing intimate partner violence and getting the young women back in school,” Groves says.