Meet the CIPHER grantees

Francis Ateba Ndongo

Year awarded: 2021
Institution: Chantal Biya Foundation
Research site: Cameroon
Primary mentor: Albert Faye, Denis Diderot University

Francis Ateba Ndongo is the Day Care Unit Coordinator for Chantal Biya Foundation in Yaounde, Cameroon, which cares for children and adolescents living with HIV. He is also a public health lecturer at the University of Ngaoundere, Cameroon.


“This CIPHER grant will allow me to conduct an intervention research study that aims to develop and evaluate a model of psychological and social support interventions adapted to local cultural realities.”

Research project: Mental health of adolescents living with HIV in Cameroon: Evaluation of a psychological and social intervention model

The issue

Adolescents living with HIV frequently present with mental health issues (anxiety and depression), adaptation impairment (lack of personal care and social communication) and behavioural problems, as well as problems with school and professional integration (or acceptance). In Cameroon, therapeutic education is very poorly implemented. According to the Cameroon population-based HIV impact assessment’s survey (CAMPHIA) conducted in 2018, the number of adolescents living with HIV, aged 10-14 years, was estimated at 7,221. Around 24% of them were attending care in health facilities.

The CIPHER project

This randomized controlled trial will be conducted with 300 adolescents living with HIV, aged 10-19 years, infected vertically, on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment and cared for in a reference hospital in Yaoundé (Center Mère et Enfant de la Fondation Chantal Biya). Participants will be organized into two arms of 150 each and followed for 18 months. The control arm will benefit only from routine care in the health facility (clinical examination, management of opportunistic infections, ARV dispensing and adherence advice). The intervention arm will also have this routine care and will be assigned to an HIV association (KidAIDS Cameroon) to benefit from the reinforced support model (individualized psychological follow up, support groups, leisure workshops, parents-adolescents-caregivers’ exchange platform). The primary study outcome will be retention in care measured by the degree of compliance with scheduled clinical visits. Secondary outcomes will include clinical course (occurrence of AIDS-classifying clinical events), adherence, mental state and possibly routine viral load. The study will also contribute to pharmacovigilance on the neuropsychological impact (mental state) of efavirenz and dolutegravir, part of the regimens most prescribed for adolescents with HIV.

The impact

The study results will serve as a basis at the national level to strengthen the capacities of care teams if the psychological and social support model identified is proved effective. In addition, the partners of the grantee’s research network in Mali and Senegal will be involved in all stages of our research so that this improved support model, if it proves effective, can be extended to other countries in the sub-Saharan region.

1st International Paediatric HIV Symposium in Africa - Virtual Symposium 17-18 November 2021




Annual international workshop on “Children and Adolescents HIV-Exposed and Uninfected”

CIPHER Grant Programme
Awards up to $150,000 to early-stage investigators to address critical research gaps in paediatric and adolescent HIV in resource-limited settings.

CIPHER Growing the Leaders of Tomorrow Fellowship
Provides support to young investigators in sub-Saharan Africa on priority research topics in paediatric and adolescent HIV clinical science.

CIPHER Global Cohort Collaboration
Brings together the largest collaboration of paediatric and adolescent HIV observational cohort networks to answer key questions of global public health.

Research agendas for paediatric and adolescent HIV