Inadequate pre-antiretroviral care, stock-out of antiretroviral drugs and stigma: Policy challenges/bottlenecks to the new WHO recommendations for earlier initiation of antiretroviral therapy (CD<350 cells/μL) in eastern Uganda

Lubega Muhamadi, Xavier Nsabagasani, Mbona Nazarius Tumwesigye, Fred Wabwire-Mangen, Anna Mia Ekström, Stefan Peterson, George Pariyo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This study explores reasons for late ART initiation among known HIV positive persons in care from a client/caretaker perspective in eastern Ugandan where ART awareness is presumably high yet AIDS related mortality is a common function of late initiation of ARVs. Methods: In Iganga, Uganda we conducted in-depth interviews with clients who started ART at 50-200 CD4 cells/μL and those initiated very late at CD4<50 cells/μL. Focus-group discussions were also conducted with caretakers of clients on ART. Content analysis was performed to identify recurrent themes. Results: ARV stock-outs, inadequate pre-antiretroviral care and lack of staff confidentiality were system barriers to timely ART initiation. Weak social support and prevailing stigma and misconceptions about ARVs as drugs designed to kill, cause cancer, infertility or impotence were other important factors. Conclusion: If the new WHO recommendations (start ART at CD4 350 cells/μL) should be feasible, PLHIV/communities need sensitization about the importance of regular pre-ARV care through the local media and authorities. The ARV supply chain and staff attitudes towards client confidentiality must also be improved in order to encourage timely ART initiation. PLHIV/communities should be sensitization about drug package labeling and the use and importance of ARVs. Stronger social support structures must be created through public messages that fight stigma, enhance acceptance of PLHIV and encourage timely ART initiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-194
Number of pages8
JournalHealth policy
Volume97
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bottlenecks
  • Policy challenges
  • WHO ART Recommendations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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