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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Youth Perceptions of Comprehensive Adolescent Health Services Through the Boston HAPPENS Program
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Introduction: The Boston HAPPENS (HIV Adolescent Provider and Peer Education Network for Services) program is a collaborative network of care made up of 8 organizations that serve youth and provide coordinated care for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive, homeless, and at-risk youth aged 12 to 24 years. Learning youth perceptions about the program is essential to determine if the program is meeting their needs.

Methods: In this qualitative evaluation, 18 youth served by the network met in 4 focus groups to provide their view of the program. Services within 5 categories were assessed: (a) medical care, (b) mental health and substance abuse care, (c) HIV prevention and care, (d) case management, and (e) allocation of finances.

Results: Boston HAPPENS has achieved name recognition and provides many needed services for youth from a wide variety of backgrounds. The youth were comfortable receiving care and were appreciative of the comprehensive services available. They provided suggestions for how mental health services could be offered as one-on-one counseling as part of "wellness care.” Young participants also requested more recreational and support opportunities for young people living with HIV.

Discussion: Qualitative evaluations such as this give a voice to youth to advocate for services they need. By including youth ideas and perspectives during program development and implementation, services can be more attractive to groups of at-risk youth who historically have been less likely to seek care. (Authors)