HIV & AIDS

Universal health coverage (UHC) has gained prominence as a global health priority. The UHC movement aims to increase access to quality, needed health services while reducing financial hardship from health spending, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. As a policy agenda, UHC has been identified primarily with prepayment and risk-pooling programs. While financing policies provide important benefits, increasing access to health services will require broader reforms. For lessons, the UHC movement should look to the global HIV response, which has confronted many of the same barriers to access in weak health systems. Considerable success on HIV has resulted from innovative approaches that UHC efforts can build upon, in areas including governance, financing, service delivery, political mobilization, accountability, and human rights. UHC and HIV efforts must capitalize on potential synergies, especially in settings with a high HIV burden and major resource limitations.

Beginning in 2003, Uganda used Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) to assist district managers collect and use data to improve their human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS program. Uganda's LQAS-database (2003–2012) covers up to 73 of 112 districts. Our multidistrict analysis of the LQAS data-set at 2003–2004 and 2012 examined gender variation among adults who ever tested for HIV over time, and attributes associated with testing. Conditional logistic regression matched men and women by community with seven model effect variables. HIV testing prevalence rose from 14% (men) and 12% (women) in 2003–2004 to 62% (men) and 80% (women) in 2012. In 2003–2004, knowing the benefits of testing, knowing where to get tested, and secondary education were significantly associated with HIV testing. By 2012, knowing the benefits of testing, where to get tested, primary education, being female, and being married were significantly associated with HIV testing. HIV testing prevalence in Uganda has increased dramatically, more for women than men. Our results concurred with other authors that education, knowledge of HIV, and marriage (women only) are associated with testing for HIV and suggest that couples testing is more prevalent than other authors found.

We reviewed literature on HIV and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan African prisons published between 2011 and 2015, and identified data from only 24 of the 49 countries in the region. Where data were available, they were frequently of poor quality and rarely nationally representative. Prevalence of HIV infection ranged from 2·3% to 34·9%, and of tuberculosis from 0·4 to 16·3%; detainees nearly always had a higher prevalence of both diseases than did the non-incarcerated population in the same country.We identified barriers to prevention, treatment, and care services in published work and through five case studies of prison health policies and services in Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, and Benin. These barriers included severe financial and human-resource limitations and fragmented referral systems that prevent continuity of care when detainees cycle into and out of prison, or move between prisons. These challenges are set against the backdrop of weak health and criminal-justice systems, high rates of pre-trial detention, and overcrowding. A few examples of promising practices exist, including routine voluntary testing for HIV and screening for tuberculosis upon entry to South African and the largest Zambian prisons, reforms to pre-trial detention in South Africa, integration of mental health services into a health package in selected Malawian prisons, and task sharing to include detainees in care provision through peer-educator programmes in Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa. However, substantial additional investments are required throughout sub-Saharan Africa to develop country-level policy guidance, build human-resource capacity, and strengthen prison health systems to ensure universal access to HIV and tuberculosis prevention, treatment, and care of a standard that meets international goals and human rights obligations.

Moving the global response towards the universal test and treat model will pose huge challenges to public health systems in resource-limited settings, including global and local supply chain systems. These challenges are especially acute in Africa, which accounts for over 70% of the persons affected by HIV.To ensure that there are enough anti-retrovirals available to treat the nearly 25 million people that will require them by 2020 represents a near doubling of the ARV supplied to treat the 13 million currently on treatment. Similarly, to monitor those on treatment means an unprecedented scale-up of viral load testing throughout Africa. Larger issues include whether the capacity exists at the local level to handle these commodities when they arrive in the most severely affected countries, including considerations of the human resources and costs needed to make this strategy effective. We believe that such ‘‘real world’’ analysis of proposed strategies and policies is essential to ensure their most effective implementation.

In recent years, new global initiatives responding to the AIDS crisis have dramatically affected—and often significantly improved—how developing countries procure, distribute, and manage pharmaceuticals. A number of developments related to treatment scale-up, initially focused on AIDS-related products, have created frameworks for widening access to medicines for other diseases that disproportionally impact countries with limited resources and for strengthening health systems overall. Examples of such systems strengthening have come in the areas of drug development and pricing; policy and regulation; pharmaceutical procurement, distribution, and use; and management systems, such as for health information and human resources. For example, a hospital in South Africa developed new tools to decentralize provision of antiretroviral therapy to local clinics—bringing treatment closer to patients and shifting responsibility from scarce pharmacists to lower level pharmacy staff. Successful, the system was expanded to patients with other chronic conditions, such as mental illness. Progress toward universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support will continue the push to strengthen pharmaceutical sectors that serve not only HIV-related needs but all health needs; health experts can likely take these achievements further to maximize their expansion into the wider health system.

In recent years, global health initiatives have greatly increased the number of patients in low-income countries started on antiretroviral therapy (ART). This creates an urgent need to know how well HIV/AIDS programs maintain patients on therapy. Consensus, however, is lacking on practical, reliable, and valid indicators to monitor program performance on adherence. Recently, the Global Fund became the first funding organization to recommend an adherence indicator to monitor program performance. This is a welcome beginning. International organizations and national AIDS control programs have a clear and urgent need to finalize agreement about standard indicators to monitor patient adherence and retention and to begin to make such data publicly available. UNAIDS and the WHO Department of HIV/AIDS should take the lead in coordinating donor and country collaboration in this important endeavor.

The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are the most common infections of humans in sub-Saharan Africa. Virtually all of the population living below the World Bank poverty figure is affected by one or more NTDs. New evidence indicates a high degree of geographic overlap between the highest-prevalence NTDs (soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and trachoma) and malaria and HIV, exhibiting a high degree of co-infection. Recent research suggests that NTDs can affect HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria disease progression. A combination of immunological, epidemiological, and clinical factors can contribute to these interactions and add to a worsening prognosis for people affected by HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria. Together these results point to the impacts of the highest-prevalence NTDs on the health outcomes of malaria, HIV/AIDS, and TB and present new opportunities to design innovative public health interventions and strategies for these "big three" diseases. This analysis describes the current findings of research and what research is still needed to strengthen the knowledge base of the impacts of NTDs on the big three.

This systematic review (Jan. 2003-Dec. 2014) synthesized evidence on interventions that have directly reduced mortality in high-HIV-prevalence populations. Antiretroviral therapy (ART)was the only intervention identified that decreased death in HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women. Multivitamin use was shown to reduce disease progression while other micronutrients and antibiotics had no beneficial effect on maternal mortality. The findings support global trends in encouraging initiation of lifelong ART for all HIV-infected pregnant and breastfeeding women (Option B+), regardless of their CD4+ count, as an important step in ensuring appropriate care and treatment.

In this commentary, the authors discuss why integrating HIV testing, treatment and care into child survival platforms is important, as well as its potential to advance progress towards global targets that call for, by 2020, 90% of children living with HIV to know their status, 90% of those diagnosed to be on treatment and 90% of those on treatment to be virally suppressed (90-90-90). Integration is critical in improving health outcomes and efficiency gains. In children, integration of HIV in programmes such as immunization and nutrition has been associated with an increased uptake of HIV infant testing. Integration is increasingly recognized as a case-finding strategy for children missed from prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes and as a platform for diffusing emerging technologies such as point-of-care diagnostics. These support progress towards the 90-90-90 targets by providing a pathway for early identification of HIV-infected children with co-morbidities, prompt initiation of treatment and improved survival. There are various promising practices that have demonstrated HIV outcomes; however, few have documented the benefits of integration on child survival interventions. The Double Dividend framework is well positioned to address the bidirectional impacts for both programmes.

Abstract Family caregivers play a critical role in caring for children living with HIV, however, there is little knowledge about their experiences. The aim of this study was to illuminate the family caregivers' lived experiences of caring for a child when he or she has been diagnosed with HIV and enrolled to antiretroviral treatment. Qualitative interviews with 21 family caregivers of 21 children diagnosed with HIV were analyzed using an inductive design with a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. The caregivers' experience were articulated in 5 subthemes under the main theme of "Surviving overwhelming challenges": "Committed care-giving," "Breaking the family life," "Caring burdens," "Confronting conflicts," and "Living with worry." Despite the difficult situation the family caregivers experienced with extensive worry, caring burdens, and disrupted family and social networks, they were committed caregivers. They were empowered by their belief in God but also by their strong belief in the child's treatment and support from healthcare workers. The healthcare system needs to consider possible ways to support the family caregivers during child's HIV diagnosis and treatment initiation as part of a continuum of care.

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