Factors influencing uptake of HIV care and treatment among children in South Africa-A qualitative study of caregivers and clinic staff

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK.
AIDS Care (Impact Factor: 1.6). 09/2010; 22(9):1101-7. DOI: 10.1080/09540121003602218
Source: PubMed


Despite antiretroviral therapy rollout in South Africa, fewer children than expected are accessing HIV care services. Our objectives were to describe barriers and facilitators of uptake of HIV care among children. Our study involved six private-sector clinics which provide HIV care free-of-charge in and around Gauteng province, South Africa. In-depth interviews were conducted in July 2008 with 21 caregivers of HIV-infected children attending these clinics, 21 clinic staff members and three lead members of staff from affiliated care centres. Many children were only tested for HIV after being recurrently unwell. The main facility-related barriers reported were long queues, negative staff attitudes, missed testing opportunities at healthcare facilities and provider difficulties with paediatric counselling and venesection. Caregivers reported lack of money for transport, food and treatments for opportunistic infections, poor access to welfare grants and lack of coordination amongst multiple caregivers. Misperceptions about HIV, maternal guilt and fear of negative repercussions from disclosure were common. Reported facilitators included measures implemented by clinics to help with transport, support from family and day-care centres/orphanages, and seeing children's health improve on treatment. Participants felt that better public knowledge about HIV would facilitate uptake. Poverty and the implications of children's HIV infection for their families underlie many of these factors. Some staff-related and practical issues may be addressed by improved training and simple measures employed at clinics. However, changing caregiver attitudes may require interventions at both individual and societal levels. Healthcare providers should actively promote HIV testing and care-seeking for children.

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    • "Consistent with findings reported in other settings (Boender et al., 2012; Yeap et al., 2010), the logistical hurdles of cost, distance and time remained major barriers to accessing care at our study sites, despite the availability of " free " treatment. The introduction of mobile and home-based care services may contribute to addressing the hurdle of transport and time costs; however additional financial support is required for families deterred from accessing clinic care by significant additional costs including prescriptions and laboratory charges. "
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    ABSTRACT: We present qualitative research investigating demand-side barriers to uptake of paediatric HIV services in Kenya. We explore community perceptions of services in 3 provinces where paediatric treatment is readily available but under-utilised, aiming to focus on demand-side obstacles and derive strategies for increasing uptake. We conducted focus-group discussions with openly HIV-positive parents and caregivers of children aged up to 15 years (n = 7 groups), clinic- and community-based healthworkers (n = 13 groups); and individual in-depth interviews with managers and Ministry of Health representatives (n = 6 interviews). Results revealed low community awareness of medical indications for paediatric HIV testing, alongside widespread anxieties about potential infection routes. Care-seeking delays reflect strong perceived associations between antiretroviral treatment (ART) and mortality. Despite free drugs available from the Kenyan government, costs for laboratory services, medications for opportunistic infections, transportation and nutritional needs remain major obstacles. Attitudinal barriers include fatalistic beliefs about early death for infected children and reliance on traditional healers. Stigma reduces access, especially as paediatric testing represents a “window” into parental HIV status. Apprehensive caregivers fear the lifelong nature of ART and report adherence struggles. Even when paediatric ART is relatively accessible, demand-side barriers impede uptake and must be addressed at community and facility levels.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Children and Youth Services Review
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    • "Notably, people who expressed fear that children tested for HIV would be discriminated against were less likely to have positive attitudes to HIV themselves, suggesting that for some people perceived stigma against children may be a “projection” of their own attitudes. Fear of discrimination has been shown to negatively affect uptake to HIV infant testing and care in the region [7], [8], among other factors [13]. The decision to test one’s child is clearly linked to parents’ status and perceived risk, which complicates the decision-making process; people may not only fear discrimination against their tested children (or the children in their care), but also against themselves [9], [14], [15]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Early HIV testing and diagnosis are paramount for increasing treatment initiation among children, necessary for their survival and improved health. However, uptake of pediatric HIV testing is low in high-prevalence areas. We present data on attitudes towards pediatric testing from a nationally representative survey in Zimbabwe. All 18-24 year olds and a proportion of 25-49 year olds living in randomly selected enumeration areas from all ten Zimbabwe provinces were invited to self-complete an anonymous questionnaire on a personal digital assistant, and 16,719 people agreed to participate (75% of eligibles). Most people think children can benefit from HIV testing (91%), 81% of people who looked after children know how to access testing for their children and 92% would feel happier if their children were tested. Notably, 42% fear that, if tested, children may be discriminated against by some community members and 28% fear their children are HIV positive. People who fear discrimination against children who have tested for HIV are more likely than their counterparts to perceive their community as stigmatizing against HIV positive people (43% vs. 29%). They are also less likely to report positive attitudes to HIV themselves (49% vs. 74%). Only 28% think it is possible for children HIV-infected at birth to live into adolescence without treatment. Approximately 70% of people (irrespective of whether they are themselves parents) think HIV-infected children in their communities can access testing and treatment. Pediatric HIV testing is the essential gateway to prevention and care services. Our data indicate positive attitudes to testing children, suggesting a conducive environment for increasing uptake of pediatric testing in Zimbabwe. However, there is a need to better understand the barriers to pediatric testing, such as stigma and discrimination, and address the gaps in knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS in children.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Community-based HIV counselling and testing for children is uncommon in sub-Saharan Africa including South Africa, and existing studies are largely among children already enrolled in HIV programmes or visiting health facilities (van Dijk et al., 2009; Yeap et al., 2010). We address this gap by identifying barriers to paediatric HIV treatment uptake at community level. "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract In South Africa, a third of children born are exposed to HIV, while fewer undergo an HIV confirmatory test. Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) coverage among children remains low-despite roll-out of the national ART programme in South Africa in 2004. This study sought to understand critical barriers to seeking HIV-related care for children in rural South Africa. Data presented in this article derive from community-based qualitative research in poor rural villages in north-east South Africa; this includes 21 in-depth interviews in 2008 among caregivers of children identified as HIV-positive in 2007 from a randomly selected community-based sample. Using NVIVO 8, data were coded and analysed, using a constant comparative method to identify themes and their repetitions and variations. Structural barriers leading to poor access to health care, and social and systems barriers, all influenced paediatric HIV treatment seeking. Of concern was the expressed need to maintain secrecy regarding a child's HIV status to avoid stigma and discrimination, and misconceptions regarding the course of HIV disease in children; this led to a delay in seeking appropriate care. These barriers need to be addressed, including through focused awareness campaigns, improved access to health care and interventions to address rural poverty and development at both household and community levels. In addition, training of health care professionals to improve their attitudes and practice may be necessary. However, this study only provides the perspective of the caregivers; further studies with health care providers are needed to gain a fuller picture for appropriate policy and practice guidance.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · AIDS Care
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