Assessing engagement of adolescents and young adults (AYA) in HIV research: A multi-method analysis of a crowdsourcing open call and typology of AYA engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa

Engagement of adolescents and young adults (AYA) in HIV research is increasing in many settings. We organized a crowdsourcing open call to solicit examples of how AYA have been engaged in HIV research in Africa and to develop an engagement typology. We formed a steering committee, promoted the open call, organized judging and recognized finalists. We used a multi-methods approach to identify emerging themes and measure engagement. We received 95 entries from individuals in 15 countries; 74 met the eligibility criteria. More than three-quarters of entries were from AYA (55/74, 74%). Four themes characterized AYA engagement: (1) AYA were co-creators in the HIV research process. (2) AYA were involved in community-level capacity building. (3) AYA were co-leaders in minor risk research. (4) AYA used digital methods to enhance engagement. Our open call identified diverse methods of AYA engagement, which can enhance strategies used to reach AYA in African HIV studies.