Faced with challenges to patient adherence and retention on antiretroviral therapy (ART), Mozambique implemented a community approach to service delivery. This approach provides patients with easier access to their antiretroviral, in addition to peer support.
Because the majority of antiretroviral therapy (ART) services provided in resource-limited settings are done so in standardized yet inefficient ways, long-term ART adherence and retention is difficult. In Uganda, stable clients needed ways to access medications closer to their homes, which would reduce the cost and disruption of remaining adherent to ART.
Ariel Adherence Clubs (AACs) have been implemented across 6 regions in Tanzania, at 105 facilities, since 2007 by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). AACs were designed to address the social and behavioral barriers to HIV treatment, retention, and adherence faced by children and adolescents. All participants in AACs are required to know their HIV status. As such, trained providers work with caregivers to facilitate disclosure of HIV status to children and adolescents. Psychosocial support groups for HIV-positive children and adolescents aged 5–19 are provided at AACs. Clubs are grounded in the belief that children and adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) will achieve improved health outcomes when clinical services are complemented by high-quality social support and age-appropriate information about HIV infection, treatment, adherence, HIV status disclosure, positive living, and life skills needed for growing and aging into healthy, HIV-positive adults. The purposes of AACs are to improve participant antiretroviral treatment (ART) adherence and clinic retention, and provide psychosocial supports to adjust to living with HIV and transitioning into adulthood and adult HIV care.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is frequently distributed via health facilities and their pharmacies. An increased volume of medically-stable patients at facilities reduces the time clinicians can spend with those who require acute care and also discourages patients from attaining care, due to long wait times. For medically-stable patients, going to a health facility for monthly refill pickup reduces the likelihood of retention on treatment for a variety of factors, including the transportation costs and financial losses of time missed at work incurred by a trip to the health facility . Importantly, retention on ART is vital to the health of HIV-positive individuals, but also to the well-being of the communities in which they live. Achieving higher rates of retention among HIV-positive patients, then, is crucial.
The Bukoba Combination Prevention Evaluation (BCPE) in Tanzania has an innovative, peer-delivered, linkage-case-management (LCM) program for people 18-49 years old who are diagnosed in community and clinical settings. Through LCM, HIV-positive patients receive a package of peer-delivered linkage services recommended by the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). The standard set of linkage-to-care recommendations helps ensure all people living with HIV (PLHIV) enroll in care in a timely manner.
The Western Cape Government Department of Health adopted the adherence club (AC) model for the Cape Metro district in January 2011. The ART-AC model provides patient-friendly access to ART for clinically stable patients, ART distribution, and care and support to groups of stable patients. ACs can reduce the burden that stable patients place on healthcare facilities, freeing healthcare workers to treat new and unstable patients.
CommLink is an innovative, community-based integrated HIV-testing, linkage, and mobile HIV-care demonstration program. It has been working in Swaziland since June 2015. Through community-based testing, HIV-infected individuals receive baseline clinical care, and a comprehensive package of peer-delivered linkage services recommended by the WHO and the CDC. CommLink mobile services, beginning with HIV diagnosis, help community patients "link" to a local facility for lifetime HIV care, treatment, and support.
The Zvandiri program, run by Africaid, began in Zimbabwe in 2004 as a support group for adolescents living with HIV. Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS), HIV- positive people aged 18-24 years, work between health facilities and the homes of youth living with HIV (YLHIV) to increase uptake of testing, linkage, and retention in care, adherence, and services related to sexual and reproductive and mental health. Monthly community-based support groups, community outreach teams, and clinic-based Zvandiri Centers provide safe spaces for accessing clinical and social services and linking adolescents to other forms of assistance, while educating individuals on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and life skills. Through these interventions, the Zvandiri program builds mental, emotional, and physical resilience.
In many PEPFAR countries, most funding for a national HIV program comes from the host country. Nevertheless, programs for pecific communities and key populations (KP) remain largely dependent on external donor financing through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Global Fund). Local public resources to support the KP response have remained underused due to a shortage of social contracting systems, limited social health insurance capacity, and undefined policy frameworks.
As part of the efforts to scale-up HIV testing services (HTS) and prevention interventions, along with proactive referrals to antiretroviral treatment (ART), PrEP for HIV prevention was formally made available in late 2015. However, there were no data on the acceptability to guide targeting and roll-out. Since PrEP is a relatively new prevention intervention in PEPFAR countries, PEPFAR’s partners will need technical assistance to scale best practices with fidelity and to ensure that implementation addresses the diversity of target populations across varied settings.
Until recently, most countries with external donor support provided HIV services free of charge. Declining donor funds require countries to identify other opportunities to mobilize domestic financial resources. Vietnam needed to fill resource gaps and deploy cost-effective strategies to increase prevention efforts and case detection, facilitate immediate enrollment on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and strengthen support services to ensure sustained HIV viral suppression.