India has approximately 5.2 million persons infected with HIV. Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) is being widely introduced in public clinics, many HIV-infected persons still seek care via the private sector. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2004 at six public and private sites to characterize the knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) of ART among patients with HIV receiving care in India. Of 1667 persons surveyed, 609 (36%) had heard of ART and 19% of these persons reported that ART could cure HIV. Twenty-four percent reported that they were currently taking ART, with 18% of these patients not actually on ART according to their provider. Major barriers to taking ART were cost (33%), lack of knowledge of ART (41%), and deferral by physician (30%). More than half of all public and private patients had not heard of CD4 (57%) or viral load testing (80%), and even fewer had received these tests (32% and 11%, respectively). Private clinic attendees were almost 4 times more likely to be on ART (35% versus 9%, p < 0.0001), more likely to be male, have a higher education, be partnered, have a higher income, and have had a CD4 or viral load (p < 0.0001). Overall, low levels of ART knowledge and access were observed among HIV infected patients, with access to ART being particularly low among patients attending public clinics. In order to make widespread dissemination of ART effective in India, further educational and programmatic efforts are likely needed to optimize access, treatment awareness, and compliance among patients with HIV.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases