HIV Treatment and Care of Adolescents: Perspectives of Adolescents on Community-Based Models in Northern Uganda
Ssebuwufu, Eddie Marvin
Puleh, Sean Steven
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Background: Differentiated service delivery models for people living with HIV continue to be scaled up to expand access to HIV services and treatment continuity. However, there is a gap in information on adolescents’ perspectives on community-based models. We aimed to explore the perspectives of adolescents living with HIV on community-based models in northern Uganda. Materials and Methods: Between February and March 2022, we conducted a descriptive qualitative study at two health centres IV in Northern Uganda. Data was collected using an interview guide. The study had 25 purposively selected adolescents enrolled in community-based models for HIV care and treatment. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and translated. We analyzed data using a thematic approach. Results: A total of 25 in-depth interviews with HIV-positive adolescents were conducted. More than half (52.0%) of the participants were females, 84.0% were not married, and 44.0% had no formal education. The mean age of the respondents was 15.6 (±1.9) years. The major themes were: community-based models currently accessed by adolescents, benefits, and challenges of the models. Although there are other community-based models (community pharmacies, home ART deliveries) our exploration only discovered two models used by these adolescents to access care, namely, Community Drug Distribution Point (CDDP) and Community Client-Led ART Delivery Groups (CCLADs). The benefits included reduced transportation costs, convenient service access, ART adherence, peer support, a comfortable environment and less stress. However, our results indicate that these models had some challenges, including lack of confidentiality and privacy, perceived stigma, and a lack of face-to-face interaction. Conclusion: Our findings show that CDDP and CCLADs are the two CBMs used by adolescents in Lira District to access treatment and care. Adolescents benefited from these models through reduced transport costs, the convenience of accessing HIV care and treatment, and social support. The challenges associated with these models are lack of confidentiality and privacy, perceived stigma, and a lack of face-to-face interaction. The Ministry of Health should work with other implementing partners to strengthen the implementation of these models to improve HIV/AIDS service delivery for adolescents.
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