Barriers of HIV treatment-seeking behavior among youths living with HIV in Uganda: a qualitative study
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Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden
Submission date: 2021-03-09
Final revision date: 2021-06-16
Acceptance date: 2021-06-21
Publication date: 2022-01-15
HIV & AIDS Review 2022;21(1):43-49
This study aimed to explore experienced barriers to seek human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatment and care among youth living with HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in Uganda. Given that this population remains at the center of HIV epidemic, the study’s ultimate goal was to contribute to improvement of effectiveness of HIV prevention interventions for youth in Uganda. Twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with HIV-infected youth aged between 18 and 24, who had entered care within one year upon receipt of results and referral for free care. In addition, key-informant interviews were conducted with 30 health service providers. The study used thematic content analysis to analyze its’ findings. The study demonstrated that barriers to using HIV care included fear of stigma and HIV disclosure, young men and women’s lack of support from their families, demanding work schedules, and high transport costs. Programmatic barriers included fear of stigma, antiretroviral drug side effects, long waiting and travel times, and inadequate service providers’ respect for patients. The study recommends targeted interventions to combat stigma, strengthen couple counseling and health education programs, and address gender inequalities among other things.

Material and methods:
We conducted 20 in-depth interviews among HIV-infected individuals aged between 18 and 24 years and key-informant interviews.

Barriers to using HIV care included, among others, fear of stigma and HIV disclosure, and young men and women’s lack of support.

Targeted interventions to combat stigma, strengthen couple counseling and health education programs, focus on gender inequalities as well as implement youth-friendly and flexible clinic service hours are all needed to address barriers to using care of HIV patients.

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