Journal of evidence-informed social work 2017 12 13() 1-14 doi 10.1080/23761407.2017.1397580
In spite of the global decline in HIV infections, sub-Saharan Africa still accounts for a non-proportional majority of global new infections. While many studies have documented the importance of facilitating access to anti-retroviral therapy (ART) as a means of reducing infections, the relationship between interpersonal, community, healthcare facility, and policy-level factors and treatment adherence in Africa have not been well-described. The authors examined these factors in the context of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in rural north-central Nigeria, where HIV burden is high and service coverage is low.
Eleven focus groups (n = 105) were conducted among PMTCT clients, male partners, young women, and other community members from 39 rural and semi-rural communities to explore factors related to HIV and antenatal care service use. Data were analyzed using the Constant Comparative Method.
Irrespective of HIV status, participants reported barriers to access including long clinic wait times, transportation availability and cost, and the lack of HIV treatment medications. For HIV-positive women, stigma from family members, providers, and the local community affected their ability to obtain care and remain ART-adherent. In the face of these barriers, these women reflected on the importance of peer and community support, as well as the passage of laws to combat barriers to treatment access, uptake, and adherence.
Facilitating treatment adherence may require not only focusing on the medical treatment needs of these women but also structural issues, such as the availability of providers and drugs, and systemic stigmatization of HIV-positive patients.