PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF ANTIRETROVIRAL THERAPY (ART) IN RELATION TO ENTRY AND RETENTION IN THE HIV CONTINUUM OF CARE: Findings from a Rural Setting of Chivuna, Zambia
Malungo, Jacob R.S.
Simona, Simona J.
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As is the case with most of the countries in the sub-Sahara region with a high prevalence of HIV and AIDS, antiretroviral therapy has increasingly become available in Zambia. The way antiretroviral therapy (ART) is perceived by the users and potential users is important for its effectiveness. This paper is aimed at exploring how ART is perceived and how such perceptions influence people’s entry and retention in the HIV continuum of care. Data for this paper wasderived from a large study in a remote rural setting of Chivuna in Southern Province of Zambia. A mixed methods approach was used and 653 participants were interviewed using a structured questionnaire to generate quantitative data while 24 focus groups, 67 in-depth interviews and 19 informant interviews informed the qualitative aspect of the study. Data analysis was done using SPSS version 20 and Atlas.ti version 7 data analysis packages. Although people’s perceptions about ART were generally evolving from negative to positive, this study indicates that negative perceptions still exist among the rural population. These negative perceptions act as barriers to people’s utilisation of HIV and AIDS-related services.The study has shown a level of association between perceptions about ART and people’s entry and retention in the HIV continuum of care. In this regard, it is important for stakeholders to redress negative perceptions and harness the positive ones so as to enhance early entry and retention in the continuum of care for people living with HIV. This has the potential of contributing to reduced morbidity, reduced mortality and reduced transmission of new HIV infection cases.
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The study shows a level of association between perceptions about ART and people’s entry and retention in the HIV continuum of care