Infectious diseases of poverty 2017 11 216(1) 152 doi 10.1186/s40249-017-0364-5
By September 2016, approximately 653,865 people in China were living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and 492,725 people were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). PLWHA frequently experience discrimination in all domains of their personal and social lives. The World Health Organization includes discrimination in its list of social determinants of health factors that have been linked to poor physical and psychological health. This paper identifies the family support enjoyed and discrimination faced by people infected with HIV and examines the effect they have on patients’ quality of life (QOL) as they undergo ART in China.
We conducted this observational cohort study of ART-treated patients with HIV in Guangxi Province using a questionnaire survey at baseline, 6, 12, and 24 months, starting in 2010. Descriptive analysis was used to describe the demographic characteristics (e.g., age, sex, educational level, marital status, and employment status) of participants. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were employed to examine the relationships between family support, discrimination, and QOL.
In the study, 90.4% (n = 281) of patients received family support at baseline, here defined as the initiation of ART, 91.8% (n = 244) received family support 6 months into ART, 95.5% (n = 220) at 12 months, and 94.3% (n = 230) at 24 months. The proportion of patients who did not feel discriminated against by their families was 87.2% (n = 274) at baseline, 90.4% (n = 229) 6 months into ART, 90.0% (n = 210) at 12 months, and 94.5% (n = 219) at 24 months. Patients’ overall QOL scores were positively associated with having received family support (OR = 2.74, P = 0.040, 95% CI: 1.68-4.47), not feeling discriminated against by their families (OR = 1.3, P = 0.041, 95% CI: 1.07-1.59) or discrimination from patients themselves, including never experiencing fear of abandonment by family (OR = 2.05, P = 0.025, 95% CI: 1.49-2.82).
Family support along with no or minimal discrimination was found to contribute to QOL among people infected with HIV. Their overall QOL tended to improve significantly as ART continued. This suggests that strategies meant to improve and strengthen family support, care for PLWHA, and promote HIV screening among high-risk populations should be explored by both policy makers and researchers.