An evaluation of the impact of a community-based adherence support programme on ART outcomes in selected government HIV treatment sites in South Africa
AIDS CARE-PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIO-MEDICAL ASPECTS OF AIDS/HIV
North West University - South Africa, Absolute Return Kids, Kheth Impilo
This study assessed the impact of a community-based adherence support service on the outcomes of patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART). The evaluation was a retrospective study based on patient clinical records. This study noted that a significantly higher proportion of patients with a community-based adherence supporter (also known as a patient advocate, PA) had viral load (VL) of less than 400 copies/ml at six months of treatment (70%, p = 0.001); a significantly higher proportion of patients with PAs (89%) attained a treatment pickup rate of over 95% (67%; p = 0.021). Patients at health facilities with PA services maintained a suppressed VL for a longer period as opposed to patients at health facilities without PA services (p = 0.001), also patients at health facilities with PA services remained in care for longer periods (p = 0.001). Therefore, the study concludes that integrated community-based adherence support is crucial in ensuring that patients remain in care, regularly pickup their treatment from ART clinics and are virologically suppressed. The study also underscores the importance of access to health services and the presence of an enabling environment in the treatment of AIDS.