Health facility barriers to HIV linkage and retention in Western Kenya

Juddy Wachira, Violet Naanyu, Becky Genberg, Beatrice Koech, Jacqueline Akinyi, Regina Kamene, Samson Ndege, Abraham M. Siika, Sylvester Kimayo, Paula Braitstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: HIV linkage and retention rates in sub-Saharan Africa remain low. The objective of this study was to explore perceived health facility barriers to linkage and retention in an HIV care program in western Kenya. Methods: This qualitative study was conducted July 2012-August 2013. A total of 150 participants including; 59 patients diagnosed with HIV, TB, or hypertension; 16 caregivers; 10 community leaders; and 65 healthcare workers, were purposively sampled from three Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) sites. We conducted 16 in-depth interviews and 17 focus group discussions (FGDs) in either, English, Swahili, Kalenjin, Teso, or Luo. All data were audio recorded, transcribed, translated to English, and a content analysis performed. Demographic data was only available for those who participated in the FGDs. Results: The mean age of participants in the FGDs was 36 years (SD = 9.24). The majority (87%) were married, (62.7%) had secondary education level and above, and (77.6%) had a source of income. Salient barriers identified reflected on patients? satisfaction with HIV care. Barriers unique to linkage were reported as quality of post-test counseling and coordination between HIV testing and care. Those unique to retention were frequency of clinic appointments, different appointments for mother and child, lack of HIV care for institutionalized populations including students and prisoners, lack of food support, and inconsistent linkage data. Barriers common to both linkage and retention included access to health facilities, stigma associated with health facilities, service efficiency, poor provider-patient interactions, and lack of patient incentives. Conclusion: Our findings revealed that there were similarities and differences between perceived barriers to linkage and retention. The cited barriers reflected on the need for a more patient-centered approach to HIV care. Addressing health facility barriers may ultimately be more efficient and effective than addressing patient related barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number646
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Barriers
  • Healthcare
  • HIV
  • Kenya
  • Linkage
  • Retention
  • Social ecological model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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  • Cite this

    Wachira, J., Naanyu, V., Genberg, B., Koech, B., Akinyi, J., Kamene, R., Ndege, S., Siika, A. M., Kimayo, S., & Braitstein, P. (2014). Health facility barriers to HIV linkage and retention in Western Kenya. BMC Health Services Research, 14(1), [646].