Integrating HIV Care into Primary Care Services: Quantifying Progress of an Intervention in South Africa

Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 01/2013; 8(1):e54266. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054266
Source: PubMed


Integration of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) care into primary care services is one strategy proposed to achieve universal access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) for HIV-positive patients in high burden countries. There is a need for controlled studies of programmes to integrate HIV care with details of the services being integrated.
A semi-quantitative questionnaire was developed in consultation with clinic staff, tested for internal consistency using Cronbach's alpha coefficients and checked for inter-observer reliability. It was used to conduct four assessments of the integration of HIV care into referring primary care clinics (mainstreaming HIV) and into the work of all nurses within ART clinics (internal integration) and the integration of pre-ART and ART care during the Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV (STRETCH) trial in South Africa. Mean total integration and four component integration scores at intervention and control clinics were compared using one way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Repeated measures ANOVA was used to analyse changes in scores during the trial.
Cronbach's alpha coefficients for total integration, pre-ART and ART integration and mainstreaming HIV and internal integration scores showed good internal consistency. Mean total integration, mainstreaming HIV and ART integration scores increased significantly at intervention clinics by the third assessment. Mean pre-ART integration scores were almost maximal at the first assessment and showed no further change. There was no change in mean internal integration score.
The questionnaire developed in this study is a valid tool with potential for monitoring integration of HIV care in other settings. The STRETCH trial interventions resulted in increased integration of HIV care, particularly ART care, by providing HIV care at referring primary care clinics, but had no effect on integrating HIV care into the work of all nurses with the ART clinic.

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Available from: Willie F Mollentze, Feb 12, 2014
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    • "An integration questionnaire was developed and administered at intervals at all the clinics involved in the STRETCH trial in order to assess progress of the integration intervention. This assessment showed that there was significant progress made in the mainstreaming of HIV care but no significant progress made with internal integration [29]. The factors that may have contributed to this unexpected lack of progress in internal integration within intervention clinics in the STRETCH trial are the focus of this article. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The integration of HIV care into primary care services is one of the strategies proposed to increase access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS in high HIV burden countries. However, how best to do this is poorly understood. This study documents different factors influencing models of integration within clinics. Methods Using methods based on the meta-ethnographic approach, we synthesised the findings from three qualitative studies of the factors that influenced integration of HIV care into all consultations in primary care. The studies were conducted amongst staff and patients in South Africa during a randomised trial of nurse initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and integration of HIV care into primary care services – the Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV (STRETCH) trial. Themes from each study were identified and translated into each other to develop categories and sub-categories and then to inform higher level interpretations of the synthesised data. Results Clinics varied as to how HIV care was integrated. Existing administration systems, workload and support staff shortages tended to hinder integration. Nurses’ wanted to be involved in providing HIV care and yet also expressed preferences for developing expertise in certain areas and for establishing good nurse patient relationships by specialising in certain services. Patients, in turn, were concerned about the stigma of separate HIV services and yet preferred to be seen by nurses with expertise in HIV care. These factors had conflicting effects on efforts to integrate HIV care. Conclusion Local clinic factors and nurse and patient preferences in relation to care delivery should be taken into account in programmes to integrate HIV care into primary care services. The integration of medical records, monitoring and reporting systems would support clinic based efforts to integrate HIV care into primary care services.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · BMC Health Services Research
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Integration of HIV care into primary care is a potential strategy to improve access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in high-burden countries. This study was conducted to determine the effect of integration of HIV care on the survival of patients needing ART. Methods: A questionnaire was used to measure the integration of HIV care into primary care during a randomized controlled trial of task shifting and decentralization of HIV care in South Africa. Cox proportional hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated for the effect of 5 different integration scores (total, pre-ART, ART, mainstreaming HIV, and internal integration) on the survival of patients with CD4 count ≤350 cells per microliter and not yet on ART. Results: A total of 9252 patients were followed up for 12-18 months. Cox proportional HRs adjusted for patient and clinic characteristics showed decreased risk of mortality in clinics with high scores for total integration [HR, 0.97; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.95 to 0.98; P < 0.001], ART integration (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90 to 0.99; P = 0.013), and internal integration (HR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.95 to 1.00; P = 0.041). Analysis of the effect of component scores adjusted for patient characteristics only showed decreased risk of mortality in clinics with high scores for total integration (HR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.94 to 1.00; P = 0.032), pre-ART integration (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.85 to 0.99; P = 0.027), ART integration (HR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.93 to 0.98; P = 0.001), and mainstreaming HIV (HR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.83 to 0.97; P = 0.007). Conclusion: In a context of task shifting and decentralization of care, integration of HIV care into primary care is associated with improved survival of HIV-positive patients needing ART.
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